I’ll be going to Star Wars Celebration VI, and I have no doubt it will be a tremendously fun time.
You should go.
Specifically, you should go to GeekDad, where we’re giving away two four-day passes to this August’s Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. Deadline to enter is next Tuesday, July 3, 2012.
I wrote my first blog post – and came up with the name Cornfield Meet – six years ago today.
The six most-visited posts since then, in ascending order:
#6 A Dollar Well Spent – 6/15/11 – Hardly surprising, I suppose: I mean, a 1970s science fiction fan magazine with a Forbidden Planet / 2001 / Star Wars mash-up poster? Come on.
#5 The Rebellious Robot at 30 – 9/10/09 – A rework of an interview-based piece I originally wrote folliwing a 2004 conversation with one-time Star Wars illustrator Mark Corcoran. Incredibly nice guy, and still super-talented.
#4 My Concerns with Ohio’s New Passenger Rail – 1/31/10 – The issue itself has been dead for awhile, but this one seemed to attract searches for a map of Ohio’s population density. Weird.
#3 “Smoke up, Johnny!” – Things I Love So Far About “Community” – 9/23/09 – No question, this one drew searches for the origin of that particular quote. And the show has only gotten better.
#2 Remembering Ralph McQuarrie – 1929-2012 – 3/4/12 – The most recent post on this list, my tribute to the late Star Wars concept artist was the beneficiary of some serious signal boostage from both Bonnie Burton and the official Star Wars Twitter feed.
And in the top spot,
#1 John Hughes and “The Breakfast Club” – Forever Quotable – 8/6/09 – And there’s a sizable gap between this one and second place. True, this one’s been on the site for three years, where the McQuarrie piece isn’t even a month old, but I love the fact that this essay/research project/weird obsession still sits here quietly pulling in people looking for the source of a quote they’re sure they know from somewhere, or wondering what song Bender air guitars in the library, or what the heck he says in that line which begins, “So, Ahab…”
I should note that this ranking reflects only the visits since I moved the site over to WordPress in early 2009. (The posts from 2006-2009 made the move, of course, although their traffic stats did not.) Still, looking at which posts have attracted the most traffic and why, it’s highly unlikely that anything from the first three years would have cracked this list.
At any rate, this blog is now as old as I was when I learned that trick of snapping crayons in two over my middle finger, as a direct result of which my school “art box” was suddenly filled with half-length Crayolas.
So, I’m testing the WordPress “reblog” feature. Also, Kato is an incredibly creative and fun DM, as evidenced by this post.
Pillars are a common feature in many dungeons and ruins, and magical pillars can provide an interesting terrain feature for encounters. I’ll show you how with a few supplies from your local craft store you can make great looking glowing pillars to enhance your next game.
Fillable Pillar Set
These are the core of the project. The columns themselves are almost exactly 1″ by 1″, which is perfect for D&D, though the top and base are larger (around 2″). Fortunately, they can be removed. The pillars come in 4″ and 6″ tall (I chose the 4″ for my purposes).
Ashland Blue Submersible LED Lights 4 pack
To make the pillar glow, we need a light source, and these bright blue LEDs do the job nicely. Of course, if you…
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Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the completion of my summer 2010 solo cross-country road trip, a 15-day odyssey about which I still get nostalgic and which meant a lot to me for many reasons.
It seemed fitting then that this weekend, GeekDad writer / GeekMom senior editor and all-around nifty friend Jenny Williams and her kids swung through our corner of Ohio for a couple days and we all went down and stayed at my mom’s house in the woods of Carroll County. (Last summer, I met Jenny and her family for the first time at her mom’s house, where I stayed my first night on the eastbound trip back home. Which also reminds me: I should probably get around to posting all my eastbound photos on Flickr, now that they’re more than a year old and all.)
So anyway, Jenny and her family are in the midst of their own forty day road trip, and I was extremely excited about seeing them again, and happy to be able to offer them a stopover spot. From Thursday evening until around lunchtime Saturday, we had pretty much a nonstop fantastic time. Lots and lots of talking and game-playing. They introduced me to City Square Off, Uncle Chestnut’s Table Gype, Pirate Versus Pirate, and Ninja Versus Ninja. We also played shuffleboard, and on fired up Beatles Rock Band, Rock Band 3 and Pictionary on the Wii.
In between was a bunch of other great stuff: witnessing her kids seeing lightning bugs – or, if you prefer, fireflies :) – for the first time; repeatedly giving in to the temptation of the fresh chocolate-chip-and-Heath-Bits cookies my daughter and her friend baked; grilling dinner on the back porch; and taking everyone to the Dellroy Drive-In for ice cream, where the sign may look like it says “Fish Floats” but the peanut brittle ice cream is out of this world.
Also, at all three of meals we shared, there was bacon, which is worthy of a standalone sentence by virtue of its being bacon.
I know there are people who see the internet and online interaction as these weird technopseudosocial things which stifle actual human interaction, but this weekend has reminded me (and not for the first time) that over the past few years in particular, I have met some great friends with whom I likely never would have crossed paths were it not for teh webz, and I, for one, welcome my Skynet Overlords because of it.
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.
I haven’t decided yet if I’m running a marathon this year, but my brother Adam and I have already circled the inaugural Canton Marathon on the 2012 calendar.
The organizers published the routes (there’s a half-marathon and a 10-K, too) today. Here’s the full 26.2-miler:
The Canton Repository drove the route and created this video.
I’ve manually mapped the course at my favorite run-planning site, Gmaps Pedometer, including the last bit not included in that video and reflecting the Repository‘s statement that the marathon finish will be at the 40-yard line of Pro Football Hall of Fame Field in Fawcett Stadium, which is awfully neat. (Doesn’t specify which 40-yard line – I guessed.)
In 2009, when I ran my first (and only) marathon, I deliberately avoided training on the course because I wanted it to remain unfamiliar territory. It helped that the Towpath is an hour’s drive from my house. And where that course was all wilderness and long stretches, this one is a winding path over streets I’ve been traveling most of my life, which – even though I’ve done this once – seems to present a fair mental challenge, because I’m watching that video and going “Damn, that’s a long way.”
And yet I’m looking forward to it, so clearly, something’s wrong with me.
…because this is just too darn cool: Topless Robot has named Collect All 21! to its list of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books and said some amazingly nice things about it, which just blows me away because a) the Topless Robot gang really knows their Star Wars, and b) there’s a serious butt-ton of non-fiction SW works for the reading.
I’ll even admit that there’s the fanboy voice in the corner of my head looking at that list with its vigilant geek-debating eye and saying, “What? I can’t believe they didn’t include Impressive Work X and The Massive Star Wars Volume of Y and…” But you know what? He can shut up, because I don’t want to give up my spot, so big time thanks, Topless Robot!!
For what it’s worth, though I certainly wish I had more, I only own two of the others books on the list: No. 10 and No. 7. And you’ll just have to go read the post to find out which they are. (Hint: One of them “reassured” the children of the 1970s that “Real star wars are very unlikely. But it is not entirely impossible for unfriendly space creatures to invade Earth.”)
Thanks – yet again – to Collect All 21! cover artist Kirk Demarais for delivering the Topless Robot news, which comes on the heels of this kind post about the book at The Malaysian Reader. (And that brings the number of countries where I know people have read the book to an even dozen. Which is still mind-boggling.)
Sometimes I feel like I spend an awful lot of time at this desk and am still not as productive as I want to be. So while I was updating some of my recent project lists, I thought I’d see how many articles and other pieces I wrote last year.
I did somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 pieces for the automotive aftermarket industry trade publications Automotive Week (The Greensheet) and Service Executive. The vast majority of those were published in The Greensheet.
GeekDad: 56 posts. I don’t even come close to the output of the most prolific GeekDad core contributors, but man, do I ever have fun writing for the site. And it was a frakking great year to be a GeekDad, what with getting to attend both PAX East and Star Wars Celebration V. Among my contributions were 12 reviews and five interviews, and a piece about PBS’ Arthur which got a personal thumbs-up from Neil Gaiman. (No, I will nevereverEVER get tired of recalling that.)
Positively Cleveland: 20 articles, mostly for their visitors and destination planners’ guides.
East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church: 12 articles for the Joining Hands quarterly magazine, and a few online features.
Waste & Recycling News: 9 articles
Crain’s Cleveland Business: 8 articles
I also landed nine other “behind the scenes” corporate and marketing and advertising projects: Writing and editing of the sort that doesn’t come with bylines.
- My short fiction “The Painting” was accepted for inclusion in the 100 Stories for Haiti anthology, a project to which all the work was donated, and all proceeds went to Red Cross earthquake relief.
- CNN writer/producer Henry Hanks stumbled onto Collect All 21! and asked if I’d file an iReport video on the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, which I did. (He also interviewed me and other fans about the movie for this story.)
- The Bearded Trio – run by a guy I’ve never met but who was one of the earliest vocal supporters of Collect All 21! – invited me to contribute a post, and I had fun writing this look at some of John Williams’ lesser-known music.
- And there was The Meat Locker.
I almost forgot that I finished writing another non-fiction book, too, and that as a not-for-public-consumption project I wrote a detailed 16,000-word Star Wars Celebration V journal.
As for this blog, according to WordPress’ summary, I wrote 197 posts in 2010, which equates to something slightly more than one post every other day. That’s not bad – in fact, every other day is about what I’d hope for – but I know that most of those posts came in an unbroken 125-day stretch (Feb. 28-July 2) where I was making a deliberate effort to keep the streak alive. The fact that I had things like PAX East and re-learning Dungeons & Dragons and my 15-day cross-country trip to write about made it awfully easy to maintain that momentum – as did serializing Crossing Decembers – but once July hit, my blogging regularity was pretty much nowhere to be found.
Looking over the numbers made me feel a bit better about the productivity, though I still didn’t do nearly as much on the personal project side as I wanted to. And while one of my goals this year is to get back into the habit of writing regularly on the blog, I really need to make sure I’m putting some other things – like fiction and book proposals and other side projects – higher on the priority list.
Truth is, I like being at this desk. What I love is feeling like it’s worthwhile.
Somehow, I let almost three months pass since I last uploaded and organized a batch of my cross-country road trip photos, so this weekend I went through and processed some more.
There are three days’ worth of pictures here, although Saturday and Sunday June 19 and 20 are underrepresented photo-wise: It was a weekend just packed with greatness, hanging out with friends and just enjoying the west coast and the experience of being someplace totally new to me, but so much of that joy was just in the company and the moments, and not the sort of thing that gets captured through a camera lens. So the few images from those days almost serve as memory-triggers more than anything else.
Take this one, for instance:
You see The Donut Man on Rt. 66 in Glendora, California.
I get thrown back to a day that began with a gorgeous drive up the coast from San Diego; several hours group-geeking at Frank and Son, where I found a flashback-inducing Imperious Leader action figure; a late lunch at Q Noodle House and a drive to The Donut Man for some fresh-strawberry-filled donuts. (Our original plans had called for introducing me to shaved snow at Class 302, but of course the day’s first batch was gone when we got there.) A spontaneous trip to a nearby comic shop, and then an evening of more hanging out and visiting new friends and nerding out.
I left for the drive back to San Diego late the next morning, and after a brief nap, I spent the afternoon and evening swimming with my host friends and having an absolutely fantastic dinner and some wine out on their front patio as night fell. Again, it was just a terrific, warm-the-soul sort of day, and yet the only pictures you’ll find are the ones I snapped just after supper – the last sunset of spring:
On Monday, June 21, Jenn and Kelsey made their own (much quicker) trip across the U.S.A., and after they caught up on a bit of sleep, the three of us spent several hours in the afternoon at Balboa Park and a few that evening at Seaport Village. The whole day’s worth of photos is here.
Here’s the moon over the Coronado Bridge: