Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

It’s 48 Hour Film Project Weekend!

Jenn and Kelsey and I will be trekking Cleveland-ward this afternoon to assume our parts in No Ticket Productions’ inaugural entry in The 48 Hour Film Project‘s Cleveland edition.

The group of friends with whom we’re working has been pondering this for almost a full year, having only discovered the project right after the 2009 Cleveland weekend had passed. We’ve spent the past week or two gearing up and planning as best we can – just nuts-and-bolts and general assigning of responsibilities, since the whole point is to tackle the entire creative process within the 48-hour time limit.

Our movie – and 10 others – will be shown next Thursday, Aug. 5 at the renowned Cedar Lee in Cleveland Heights. (There are 35 teams registered: Two other group screenings are Aug. 4.)

I’ve never done anything remotely like this, and even though the whole thing’s just for fun, I really do want to be a part of writing something we can be proud of, and I’m kind of excited and gut-wobbly about the whole thing.

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, Fiction, Film, geek, Ohio, writing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Road Trip photos: June 18

I liked this stretch of the trip for several reasons: 1) The desert continued to amaze me; 2) It included my stop on Tatooine;

Tatooine, by way of Interstate 8 westbound. Click the photo to see the day's whole set.

3) Interstate 8 from El Centro to San Diego was just a stunning drive; and 4) Hey, I made it from Ohio to Southern California!

The day’s worth of snapshots can be found here.

July 29, 2010 Posted by | geek, Travel, Weblogs | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dungeons and Dragons and Family and Friends

Back in May, still buzzing from the gaming high I got at PAX East and in the wake of reading Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, I took my first steps back into the world of Dungeons & Dragons, a place I hadn’t visited since middle school.

I created a character, found myself half-dreaming scenes from his family history, got excited about buying dice, and eventually sat down at the table for my first real D&D adventure.

But the best part of all was sharing the three-session adventure with Jenn & Kelsey, and out of that came this piece I wrote for GeekDad this week.

I have +2 Family and Friends of Awesome

Click the picture to visit the article at's GeekDad.

Some other bits and pieces not in the GeekDad post:

  • Kato observed on the first night that the females at the table outnumbered the males, so screw that stereotype.
  • I found myself thinking more than once that I can remember my parents at 39 and couldn’t for the life of me imagine them sitting down to play Dungeons & Dragons. Then I thought of all the nights they got together with the neighbors and played cards or Scrabble, or later on when my brothers were older and we all played Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit with friends and family and I thought, “No difference. Game night is game night. Period.”

The whole experience – inspired in particular by Ethan Gilsdorf and Michael Harrison and Natania Barron and made possible by our awesome friends Kato and Wendy – just went far beyond my expectations as both a player and a husband and a dad.

I can’t wait to get the next adventure under way.

July 29, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Games, geek, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Wide left.

Took Jenn’s aunt & cousins to the Pro Football Hall of Fame today, and they were also giving free “tours” of Fawcett Stadium, which consisted of a short talk on the stadium’s history and alumni, and then free time on the field.

I blame the tricky cross-breezes.

Wide left.

It wasn’t pretty, but I had the distance. Accuracy? SERIOUSLY lacking.

July 27, 2010 Posted by | Ohio, Sports, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Road trip photos: June 17

I crossed most of New Mexico and Arizona on Thursday, June 17, going from Tucumcari in the northeast all the way down to west of Phoenix.

Just west of the Arizona/New Mexico border. Click the photo to see the day's set.

I remember this as a day the road surprised me a few times.

First, despite the fact that I’d planned my route in advance and knew this was going to be a long haul – 630+ miles, give or take – I was unprepared for the vastness of the land and the idea that I could spend so much time and cover so much highway and still have only covered ground in two states. I mean, I’ve spent years doing the Ohio-to-Florida route, so time on the road wasn’t a new thing to me – but going 640 miles south from Canton, you cover territory in five states and get damn close to number six. Even earlier this year, I did roughly the same distance when I drove to Rhode Island for PAX East.

This just felt like a much longer drive through much more alien territory. Don’t get me wrong: I loved it, but man, the scale of everything and the distance between populated places was almost overwhelming at times.

I remember being somewhat startled by Interstate 40’s dramatic descent into Albuquerque, because from the east, you climb into the hills so gradually you hardly notice, and then BAM! things open up and the city is far below and the desert is just spread out to the horizon.

Near Flagstaff, several hours later, more mountains and another surprise juxtaposition: this one the sight of distant snow even as the sun baked my windshield three days shy of the first day of summer.

And then the drive south to Phoenix, which covered all three of Arizona’s geographical zones, starting on the Colorado Plateau, down through the Transition Zone, and finally into the Basin and Range. Pine forests and saguaro cactus and canyons and valleys and mountain range after mountain range. Despite being pretty well exhausted by this point in the day, I really enjoyed this stretch of highway.

Check out the day’s worth of photos here.

July 26, 2010 Posted by | photos, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Back on the runner’s path

For the first time since last October, I’m running with a plan.

There’s another Hal Higdon training schedule hanging next to my desk and another date circled on the calendar as I aim for the Akron Half-marathon on September 25.

My brother Adam and are making Akron our once-a-summer race for the second straight year, and while I’ve stepped back in terms of distance – unless there’s a truly irresistible race opportunity next year, the next 26.2-miler I run will probably be the inaugural Canton Marathon in 2012 – I’m going to work on increasing my speed a bit.

I’ve set an 8-minute-mile pace goal, which may be ambitious by my own standards, but I want to have a challenge on my hands. Here’s my thinking: My pace in last year’s Towpath Marathon (my first, remember) averaged to 9:01 per mile. At the other end of the spectrum, when Adam and I were doing our short “speed runs” on 3.65-mile Tuesdays, we topped out at a 7:16 pace. I think the only double-digit-distance run where I came close to the goal I’ve set this summer was a 10-miler I ran during my peak week last year, which I finished with an 8:09 average and a 7:11 final mile. When I made my 12-mile contribution to our Akron Marathon Team Relay last September, I managed an 8:20.

The most direct comparison I could offer, of course, would be the 13.35-miler I did last August 1. Unfortunately, I bumped the stopwatch or something during that run, so the best guess I have on record is that I did it in something just under nine minutes.

Given the time frame, I had to jump right into Week Three of the schedule, and I’ve also had to shift it by a day since the Akron race is on a Saturday as opposed to a traditional Sunday run.

The speed training days, where you run repeated quarter-mile stretches at your pace goal, are new to me, and this schedule also calls for 5 days a week of running instead of four.

I’m enjoying the step back into a running schedule – although my legs were really sore yesterday as I rested from my first three consecutive days of running in I don’t know how long. And when I attempted a 3.15-miler at race pace this morning, I clocked in at an 8:02 average and felt pretty beat afterward, so clearly I’ve got work to do.

And that feels good.

July 23, 2010 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Star Wars Subway Revival

Several people – including fellow GeekDad writer Doug Cornelius – pointed me to this excellent use of Star Wars by New York’s Improv Everywhere, and it just fills me with a ridiculous amount of joy:

Sure, Star Wars parodies and mash-ups and tweaks and remixes are about as rare as a Vader figure with a missing cape and busted lightsaber, but this video really reminds me in so many ways why I love the saga and the original trilogy in particular. And the reasons have very little to do with the movies themselves.

It’s all in the reaction.

From the guy at the beginning who chuckles at the “Galactic Rebellion for Dummies” title to the half-scowls that almost involuntarily become smiles to the cell phones and cameras that quickly pop up to preserve the moment, there’s just such a generally positive response to what’s unfolding.

Warts and midichlorians and prequels and someone rhyming with Car Car Sphinx and all, Star Wars still touches something in people, still makes them genuinely grin in a particular way, and I love that.

And think about it: There’s absolutely nothing inherently funny about this scene. It’s not like they’re dancing to the Cantina Band or cracking wise with “Laugh it up, Fuzzball.” It’s not even a particularly iconic scene with the imagery, say, of a Rebel commander hoisted one-handed and having his throat crushed. It’s just a couple minutes from Star Wars.

You try this with Star Trek, for instance – and let me say that I am a fan of the best that universe has to offer, too – you re-enact Spock’s Wrath of Khan death scene, or the appearance of Locutus of Borg, or whatever poisons your green blood, and I don’t think you get the same crowd reactions. (I could be wrong – if someone’s pulled this off, I look forward to seeing the video.) Similarly, I don’t think it’d work with a scene from Jaws or The Goonies or The Godfather, either. (Raiders of the Lost Ark? Maybe. Just maybe.)

Hell, even scenes from Star Wars’ own prequels wouldn’t work the same magic, because they just haven’t embedded themselves in our collective psyche in the same way.

I can be super-jaded about my Favorite Movies Ever. Fortunately, there are things like this video that help remind me why I loved them in the first place.

July 16, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, Web/Tech | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Road trip photos: June 16

Wednesday, June 16 took me from western Arkansas all the way across Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle into New Mexico.

2010-06-16 Storm over Oklahoma

Click to see the entire June 16 set: OK, TX and NM

It was just a day of wonder all around, really, as the landscape slowly shifted with the miles and took on forms I had never seen outside photographs, and the pictures in this set from that day are some of my favorites from the road.

By pure chance, not far into Texas just off I-40, I found myself across the street from the real-life inspiration for the body shop in Disney/Pixar’s Cars

2010-06-16 Conoco Tower Station, Shamrock TX

– and later, I took probably an hour’s detour into Amarillo to visit what’s left of the Air Force Base where my dad did his basic training.

2010-06-16 Old Amarillo Air Force Base 4

When I got to Tucumcari, New Mexico late that afternoon, I really felt kind of surrounded by the spirit of the whole trip. I’m in a KOA campground some 1,400 miles from home, sitting on a picnic table alone and watching a storm roll away to the east, this warm wind gusting and pushing the clouds off while the setting sun turns everything gold –

2010-06-16 Clouds over Tucumcari Mountain 1

– and I’m looking at this utterly unfamiliar and gorgeous horizon, and I cannot believe I’m here, and I’m trying so hard to share this amazement and awe because I want everyone to have a moment or two like this.

Even now, almost a month later, I can smell that air and feel those gusts and, if I really let myself go, I can feel an echo of that thrill.

July 13, 2010 Posted by | Family history, geek, photos, Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Road trip photos: June 15

Photos from day two of my cross-country drive. June 15 began with a morning run from the campground to Six Flags and back, and ended in Arkansas.

2010-06-15 Crescent Hotel balcony view 1

View from the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs. Click the photo for the entire June 15 set.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | geek, Ohio, photos, Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Road trip photos: June 14

Click to see the dozen photos from June 14.

Three weeks ago today, I got up just before 4 a.m. and left on my 15-day odyssey to San Diego and back. I’ve set up a Flickr page to host the pictures I took along the way, sorted by date. (Note: There are a lot, so I’m not processing them all at once. One day at at time.) Aside from being the beginning of the trip, June 14 was largely uneventful – here’s the blog post from that day – though it did include an unplanned detour into Brazil (Indiana) for bread to make sandwiches.

July 5, 2010 Posted by | geek, Ohio, photos, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

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