Harry Potter 7 at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in LA

We took a vacation to Los Angeles, California in July 2011. We each had several items on our list of things to do. Some things were new and some we’ve done before but they definitely deserved repeating.

Allyson wanted to ride bikes on the Strand with her friend. We didn’t get the chance to do that last year. This time we made it top priority. It was loads of fun for the girls. Okay, for us too. Rob and I walked the Strand taking pics of the ocean while the girls peddled their hearts out.

I wanted to indulge in those amazing sweet potato fries at The Veggie Grill. I’ve really missed those fries. I don’t know how they make their sweet potato fries so much better than everyone else’s, but they truly are. Maybe their seasoned with Heaven Salt.

We all couldn’t wait to play in the Pacific Ocean. Last year we had Dixie much of the time and couldn’t take her on the beach. This year, we all walked in the water. FYI – Occasionally one wave will be larger than the others. Be prepared for thigh-deep water. Choose shorts over capris when beach/wave walking.

One thing we wanted to do during our time in LA last year was attend a movie at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. We never did because the films they were showing at the time weren’t what we call “full price” events. They were only “rental” worthy (think $1 Redbox or Netflix) to us and we didn’t want to waste money or our first visit to the famous theater on less than a spectacular movie.

Grauman’s Chinese Theater is located on Hollywood Blvd. It’s just down the street from the equally famous Kodak Theater where they film American Idol and do the Oscars. But Grauman’s is where they immortalize the rich and famous by suggesting they step into concrete. And you thought only the Mob could do that.

So, what spectacular “full price” amazing movie did we choose to see on our first outing to Grauman’s Chinese Theater? Harry Potter, of course. We got tickets to see the long-awaited, highly-anticipated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. In 3-D. With free popcorn.

We arrived a couple hours early because we had no idea what we were in for on America’s most famous street in front of America’s most famous theater for the last installment of one of the biggest movie franchises possibly ever (filmed in Britain).

Hollywood Blvd. is also home to the Walk of Fame. Countless stars are immortalized on the sidewalk with their names etched in gold on black stars. This draws quite a crowd regardless of time of day, day of the week, or week of the year. This place is always packed. If you come, the street performers run the gambit of ridiculous and rude to fabulous and friendly. FYI – they are working for tips to support themselves, so if you want a picture with one of them, be polite and be prepared to tip. Performing here might well be the only job they have.

Once inside the theater, we find seats and send Rob for snacks. The place is decorated beyond imagination. I’ve never seen such a beautiful theater. The seats are plush and there are thick, red velvet curtains (which they use) hanging in front the screen. The balconies are ornate and everywhere you look the scrollwork is beautiful.

The movie is in 3D, so we all get those adorably flattering and highly-sought-after viewing specs. Jealous? Settled into our amazing seats, free popcorn in hand, the show starts.

Don’t worry, no spoilers here. Like there’s still someone who hasn’t seen the last installment of Harry Potter. Yeah, right.

Our impression of the movie was: Wow! Phenomenal! Stupendous! Seriously, I think it was one of the best in the series and an excellent way to wrap things up. What about the 3D? I know 3D takes a lot of grief for not being particularly good, which in many cases, it deserves. But in Harry Potter, it was spot on. The beginning title shots were far more 3D-ish than the rest of the film. But, the rest of the film gives you an overall sense of depth without any of the corny vampire fish leaping out of the screen effects meant just to cause you to jump.

After the movie, you can’t just file back out into the warm, California sunshine. No. You have to visit the displays set up around the lobby. In large plexiglass cases are costumes worn by the cast. Pictures are allowed and even encouraged, but don’t take too long. They only have one screen at Grauman’s and another showing of Harry Potter will be coming up soon.

To sum it all up: Excellent movie, free popcorn, beautiful theater = one fantastic event.

Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How can you take two main characters and put them through similar traumas and not let it get dull? I have no idea, but apparently Ms. Collins is the one to ask?

Catching Fire continues the Hunger Games saga in new, breathtaking and riot-inducing ways. The characters get more complex and intertwined as we’re introduced to new elements in this twisty and elaborately-woven story of power-greedy big brother and the inextinguishable spirit of humankind.

Wow – I can’t wait to read the next one.

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Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t say much here, except WOW! Read this book. It’s wonderful regardless of your preferred genre.

On the technical side: I love the fluid use of present tense and first person. I’ve read few books that do that as brilliantly. On the artistic side: The characters are beautifully created and brought to full-blooded, realistic life. The inner workings of Katniss are presented in such a way that anyone can see themselves as her, facing the unspeakable, staring down the challenges, defying those who deserve defeat.

Yowza! – I gotta kick some butt before I explode. If you don’t find yourself wishing you could run through the gray-clad crowd throwing your sledgehammer into big brother’s giant televised face, then you didn’t get the point.

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Bermuda’s Triangle Takes Another Victim

It’s been way too long waiting on Bermuda to hit the virtual shelves. When it appeared this morning on Amazon a Kindle Edition Exclusive, it was just one of those laugh-out-loud moments. Here’s why:

On the top, you’ll see the Cover Art posted to Amazon’s website. The background is black and the images seem to be under x-ray examination. On the bottom, you’ll see the Cover Art as it’s supposed to appear. And it does appear that way when you download the book.

Sneak Peek of Area 50 Juan: A Misplaced Adventure

The sound of trees being wrested from the ground and torn apart woke the boys instantly. The deafening noise lasted only a minute, then died away suddenly with only the occasional pop of a breaking branch reaching the boys’ straining ears.

“What was that?!” demanded Earl, blinking in the dark since the campfire had abandoned them.

“It sounded like a T-rex rampaging through the trees!” cried Davie.

“There’s no dinosaurs anymore, Dave,” was Andy’s calm reply. He unzipped his sleeping bag and felt around the hard-packed ground for his shoes.

“Where’re you going?” asked Davie, nerves getting the best of his voice and making it squeaky.

“I’ll go with you,” suggested Earl, bouncing up and grabbing a flashlight.

An urgent whisper grabbed everyone’s attention, “Wait! What if it’s aliens?”

Review: Ascend

Ascend by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve really enjoyed the characters in the Trylle Trilogy. This last book in the series wraps everything up with a wonderful ending. The conclusion where good triumphs evil was well played and exciting. There was cheering in my head. Details of the events and emotional upheaval the characters go through were enjoyable and kept you right in the action.

With that said, I was a little confused at the growth and changes in the heroine, Wendy. She seemed to evolve so quickly and do things that were out of character for her. Perhaps the extreme circumstances warrant these fast-paced changes and it was merely a maturity taking place. And it wasn’t just the main character. Another character in the book, Finn, responded to Wendy’s behavior in a way that was not typical for him. It started out typical in the scene and then did a 180. To me it ended up seeming a little forced to move the characters into the scenario the author wanted.

Still a wonderful climax to an enchanting story. And it didn’t all play out the way I would have wanted. Not entirely a Hollywood ending which is two-thumbs-up in my opinion.

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Review: Valor

Valor (A Greystone Novel)Valor by Taylor Longford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read with gargoyles as the main characters. But, I wasn’t hesitant. I thought it sounded like a great idea. And it was.

Valor follows a tried-and-true formula of attraction, danger, and mystery. But don’t let tried-and-true make you think it’s typical. It’s not. You’ll meet some amazing characters, human and otherwise, and a pretty awesome dog – I love books with canine influences. The gargoyles are vividly brought to life in the descriptions and dialogue as the story reveals some (but not all) of their past, and some (but not all) of their current story. Oh, how my appetite for gargoyles has been piqued.

This edition (it’s titled “book one”) is heavy on the introduction to the characters and light on those catastrophic happenstances that make books sometimes so involved you have a hard time getting to know and care about the people in them. Action driven it isn’t, but character driven it is. And in such a good way. I’m way past sixteen, but could totally see myself in MacKenzie’s shoes. Not just see, but wish. And the boys (gargoyles) are each unique and intriguing making you wish you could talk with them for hours over lattes. I want to meet them all and have them stay at my house.

I so very thoroughly enjoyed this book. Do yourself (and your teenage daughter) a favor, and grab this one right away.

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Review: Scent of Danger

Scent of Danger (Volume 4)Scent of Danger by Autumn Dawn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scent of Danger was formerly titled Something Wild. Yet again, I’ve read a book right out of the middle of a series. I’ve got to be more careful. Luckily, this one does a really good job of being a stand-alone if you haven’t read the previous ones. The author does a wonderful job of introducing knowledge from previous books in the series without making the reader feel out of the loop. If I hadn’t been enjoying it so much and Googled author Autumn Dawn, I might have never found out. Lucky for me I did, so I can read all the rest.

The book focuses on dark, brooding Mathin and disenchanted, practical Andrea. She is human and he is, well, not. The characters and their world are brought to life through Andrea’s interaction with new and strange people with alien customs and chemistry. The querulous relationship she forms with Mathin is a bit Twilight-ish, but Twilight fans will enjoy it immensely and it doesn’t detract from the story. However, many a scene is stolen by the Stag. I think a whole book could be devoted to this funny, obstinate creature. You’ll have to read Scent of Danger to see why.

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Review: The Masque of the Black Tulip

The Masque of the Black Tulip (Pink Carnation, #2)The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second in the series, The Masque of the Black Tulip was just as delightful (perhaps more fun even?) as The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. If you’ve read Pink Carnation, then you’ve already met the main hero and heroine of Black Tulip. Henrietta Selwick, younger sister of the notorious Richard Selwick, is funny and bright and even occasionally silly. There’s a scene where she hides from Miles Dorrington that it just hilarious. Miles is, of course, the hero of this story. Being Richard’s best friend from childhood and very close to the whole Selwick family, he is deeply involved in all things spy. Miles is deliciously awkward and gets distressingly tangled up in things he shouldn’t, including Henrietta.

This was a fun romp full of mystery, romance and humor. A fantastic addition to the series. And don’t forget, you get to follow along with modern-day Eloise and her budding crush on Colin Selwick, a descendant of Lord Richard, the Purple Gentian.

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Review: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, #1)The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My teenaged daughter borrowed this historical romance from a friend and pronounced it awesome. I like a good (awesome is even better) historical romance, so I decided to read it myself. This isn’t the genre I generally reach for to quench my word-thirst, but if it’s awesome I can’t pass it up.

Was it awesome? Yes. Yes it was. Imagine, if you will, England in the spring of 1803. Okay, I can’t imagine it either, but you won’t need to. Willig sets the scenes beautifully, but never lets the landscape overtake the plot. Her characters are just as delightful. The main heroine is absolutely delicious. I love her personality. She’s full of strength and weakness, courage and trepidation, purposefulness and utter distraction. Willig’s ability to give the reader such in-depth knowledge of Amy Balcourt is what draws you in. Not to be overshadowed by the heroine, the hero, Lord Richard Selwick, is quite the mixture himself. Strong and confident, but completely confounded by this unexpected woman.

Other characters are just as intriguing and well detailed. I adored Miss Gwen and her fine cane. You’ll love her too when you read this book.

Oh… and there’s another story going on while you read about Richard and Amy. Modern day Eloise is writing her dissertation. She’s in England chasing the Pink Carnation by way of digging into the past of the Purple Gentian. Rummaging through old papers and spending days inside library dungeon-esque basements, her determination to unravel the mystery is contagious.

Even if you don’t usually go for historical romance, I think you’ll find this a rewarding read. Just think of it as a spy novel set in the past with some romance on the side.

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I’m Completely Lost and Totally Giddy

When I first starting writing Camel Lot: A Misplaced Adventure, I had no idea what I was setting in motion. Writing, yes, I can handle that. Artwork, sure, I’ve done that before. Publishing a book – yikes! Even ebook format had my head spinning. What is ebook exactly and why is it different depending on what you read it on? How do I even know if I’ve sold anything if it’s all electronic? I have no idea what I’m doing. But, my book managed to arrive at Amazon, then the iBookstore, then Barnes & Noble. As if by magic, my children’s book appeared in online retailers around the virtual globe. I could search for my book and voila, there it would be.

Rob first pointed out the ratings about a week after Camel Lot became available on Amazon. It was ranked #9 in the Children’s Action & Adventure ebook category. I was thrilled. How cool is that? What does that mean? I still have no idea. Apparently ratings on Amazon is calculated using a very complex algorithm based on book sales, book reviews, blood type and pancake ingredients. So it really doesn’t tell us anything.

Over the next few weeks, the rating declined until it was no longer in the top 100. No big deal. I’m still not sure I have any idea what the ratings mean.

Then my book hit #2. I don’t care if I don’t know what any of it means, I’m super giddy.

Kindle Edition Exclusive

Meeting the Dreadline… I mean, Deadline

Rob told me the other day that according to Footprints for iPhone (has nothing to do with Jesus carrying you) I hadn’t left the apartment since Wednesday. Seriously?!

That’s what happens when you get near the deadline on a project. Your vision narrows, your senses heighten, your desire for food evaporates (well, okay, I wouldn’t go that far).

July 1st was the self-imposed deadline for my newest children’s book, Bermuda’s Triangle, 2nd in the A Misplaced Adventure series. This book follows the struggles of Bermuda, a little girl with a big dream. She desires to play beautiful music but her lack of talent may be her undoing. Will her parents refuse to let her try another instrument? Will her music teacher give up on her? Watch for announcements when the ebook reaches Kindle.

Writing Bermuda’s Triangle was a blast. It’s a fun story and cute kiddos to write about. I enjoyed it just as much as Camel Lot. But, the art… whew! Camel Lot was full of flowers, a crazy cat and a pink magical unicorn. But Bermuda’s Triangle is full of musical instruments. Complicated, twisty (in the case of the French horn), and precise. Not exactly a description of my brain or artistic style. Okay, yes, my brain probably is complicated and twisty, but definitely not precise.

When I began the art for Camel Lot, I made the decision to not draw the children so every child can envision themselves as the characters. In Bermuda’s Triangle, this left me with pianos, violins and drums to provide the colorful images that make reading to kids so fun. “Is there a picture yet?” Who hasn’t wished there were more pictures in a bedtime book?

I definitely found the precision necessary to produce a lovely baby grand more daunting than the whimsy required for sketching a magical unicorn. But, if we don’t stretch, we don’t stay limber.

Camel Lot: A Misplaced Adventure, Kindle Edition Exclusive
Bermuda’s Triangle: A Misplaced Adventure, Kindle Edition Exclusive

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Review: The Judas Strain

The Judas Strain (A Sigma Force Novel)The Judas Strain by James Rollins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How is it this is the only title by author James Rollins I’ve read? And why did I read the one right in the middle of the series? Luckily, it was so good, I can enjoy reading this one again as I go through the entire series.

The Judas Strain is as an odd book. The plot is simple, but complex. The characters are over-the-top, but believable. The text is intelligent, but easy-reading. Full on entertainment in its most pleasant form. I can’t wait to read it again. But to you, I recommend reading them in order. That’s always best.

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Review: The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly DucklingThe Ugly Duckling by Iris Johansen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was unique. The heroine of the story has some serious psychological, mother-inflicted damage before the circumstances of her transformation ever arrive. She goes through what I can only imagine is the worst horror inflicted on someone, the loss of a child coupled with the loss of her spouse. Because of scars received during the attack on her family, she’s transformed physically into a stunning woman. But her mind is conflicted by the internal vision she has of herself. So she goes on a violent spree bent on revenge. Uh, what?

Although most people can understand the desire for revenge (especially in our heroine’s case), I find the main character unbelievable. Am I really supposed to buy this timid, bent-low-from-an-overbearing-mother character suddenly becoming Lara Croft the Avenging Angel? Now if she went on a rampage because it had all been far too much for her delicate psyche and she snapped, then I could see it.

So, why four stars? Because overall, it’s an enjoyable, butt-kicking, fist-pumping, tear-jerking read. So you totally get hooked on the main character even if she’s unbelievable.

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Review: Mercury Falls

Mercury FallsMercury Falls by Robert Kroese

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Plot: An angel and a reporter walk into the Apocalypse…

I’m not one to describe a plot or give away details that could derail a reader’s enjoyment, so the above single line plot description is all you get here.

How can I sum up my impression of Mercury Falls by Rob Kroese? Let’s just say – I completely fell. In love that is. This book is a theological romp through the end times where linoleum is evil (we all knew it was) and attache cases hold more than anyone bargained for. It’s unabashedly irreverent in all the right places. Heaven, hell and everything in between is deliciously distorted in Kroese’s brain and delivered with such wit (and dare I say, wisdom) for the reader’s ultimate enjoyment.

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Review: iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It

iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing ItiWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It by Steve Wozniak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not the biographical type. I’ve probably read maybe two in my life – this being one. With that said, this book is seriously awesome. Sure, it’s chock full of tech speak and over-the-top TMI, but in all that you get a glimpse of the real Woz. And he’s so totally cool. Like that favorite uncle you only get to see once a year at your family’s 4th of July reunion. He brings all the illegal fireworks. Yeah, that uncle.

Woz writes his story in a way that let’s the reader into his life without being too intrusive. So you don’t get that voyeuristic guilty sensation. He takes you on a journey of his own genius without being aware of it himself. His stories were often so clever or amusing I followed my husband around reading them again out loud.

So I totally recommend any fan of any genre to pick this one up.

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Review: Blow Out

Blow Out (FBI Thriller, #9)Blow Out by Catherine Coulter

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This review is verbatim from previous notes when I read this book back in 2004.

Even though I love the Savich/Sherlock series–this one was terrible. The romance/flirting between the 2 sub-characters was so lame. The dailogue was cheesy. And the plot left you wishing there had been one. The sub plot was hardly mentioned throughout the horribly long interviewing of suspects and then when it did come up again in the end, it was wrapped up quickly and with no substance. The main plot was a huge let down.

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Review: Bleachers

BleachersBleachers by John Grisham

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this quite a while ago, but I’m using previous notes to create this review. First let me say, this is not the genre I generally read. I don’t know why I picked this one up. Or why I finished it.

There isn’t a plot to speak of. Basically it’s several high school jocks drinking in the bleachers and reminiscing about their much-despised football coach. They’ve all returned for his upcoming death and funeral. Their conversations lead the reader through the past and things are learned about the characters, but to what end? I couldn’t connect with these people or find any desire to care about their stories. I found this book dull.

Again, this is not the type of book I typically read, so it had little chance to score well with me. To be fair, please check other reviews of people who read within this genre. I’ve read other John Grisham’s that were great. This one, not my cup o’ joe.

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Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo  (Complete Unabridged Version 1844)The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is considered one of the best works of Dumas and is included in the top 100 novels at http://www.thebest100lists.com/best100no… But, it’s a very, very long read. Not that the twisted (often convoluted) story isn’t intriguing. Most of us are probably aware of the story and most of us have probably seen one (or two) of the hollywood versions of the book. Just like most movie-adaptation/written-word works, the book far exceeds the film(s). Differences are as small as location details and as large as, “That’s how it ended?!”

One of the things a book can do that a movie can’t is give you a depth to its characters. And character development is what really lets us know (and love/hate) the heroes/heroines and villains in a story. I think if you take the time to read this original version, you’ll find a new side to Edmond Dante and many of the other literary mortals described in the pages of this complex classic.

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Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sharper than a wooden stake. The plot of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a history lesson intricately entwined with a bold non-Twilight vampire story that will scare you at times and bring a tear to your eye at others. The premise, first, is that vampires exist. Secondly, that one of our favorite Presidents knew about it and spent his life hunting these undead creatures. There are Photoshopped (or are they?) images interlaced within the pages to give a real sense of reading a genuine biography. Several scenes will have you pumping your fist in the air as you learn about the real and not so real 16th President of the United States. This book will give the reader another reason to love Honest Abe.

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Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1)Switched by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No spoilers, so you can read this review with reckless abandon. Switched is a young adult novel, part one of three, in the Trylle Trilogy. If you don’t buy and read it just because “Trylle Trilogy” is such a clever alliteration, then consider the believable characters, fascinating new world, and the main character’s amazing journey to discover who she really is. It’s not a grab-you-buy-the-throat demanding read. But it does hook in one sharp claw and beckon to you, “Come back to me. See what happens next.” Now, I’ve got to cut this short, so I can buy the next one.

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Nails Bitten? Check. Antacids? Check.

Rob informed me just minutes ago (it’s currently 11:48 p.m. ET on June 14, 2011) that my first book EVER just appeared on the Amazon Kindle. Now it didn’t appear there by accident. I put it there… on purpose. Scary, I know. But, I did it anyway.

My first book is Camel Lot: A Misplaced Adventure. It’s a children’s book about three youngsters playing in their mother’s forbidden flower garden.

The next book in the Misplaced Adventure series will be Bermuda’s Triangle. The story is in first draft and I’m working on the drawings. Hopefully it will come to the Kindle Store mid-July.

I’ve nearly completed another little adventure called Area 50 Juan. Yep, there’s aliens. Or are there? Juan thinks so. Should be out late August or early September.

It’s all very exciting for me. In a nail-biting, antacid-eating way.

Kindle Edition Exclusive

Buy Me a “Writer” Kevlar Vest

After returning to Indiana from Los Angeles, leaving behind a job I loved, I thought, “I’ll just run right out in this depressed job market and snatch up another.”

Pretty soon, depressed not only described the job market, but my attitude as well. I’d applied for several great job opportunities, numerous acceptable job opportunities, several okay-I-can-take-it-for-now employment options, and a couple please-please-dont-actually-call-me-back “positions” (and I use that term lightly).

So as my husband slipped back into his role of tech wizard to the Mac-needy, I sat home – alone. I’d enrolled Allyson in a public middle school expecting to be working full time, so my days were really freed up. We no longer own much (something I’ve come to love, by the way), so there wasn’t much arranging of furniture to do. At least not on a daily basis. The weather was still cold and ugly, so outdoor walking and taking Dixie (the Chihuahua) to the park wasn’t really appealing.

So I wrote a book.

Louisville Science Center

You have to make your trips few and far between to really enjoy going to the Louisville Science Center in Louisville, KY. Luckily it had been ages since Allyson and I had been. We also took friends with us which always adds to the enjoyment of any outing. Okay. Maybe not always, but definitely this time.

The front entrance still has the huge mirrored bowl-like sculpture that entertains by creating colorful mosaics from everyone’s faces. Look closely in the center and you can actually see Allyson with her friend, Allison. I know it’s confusing. Aren’t we lucky they aren’t spelled the same too?

The main area has an ever changing exhibit pertaining to one area of scientific study or another. During our visit, The Robots Interactive Exhibit was on display with several fun and interactive games and activities. You can visit this special exhibit now through June 16th, 2010. More information and great teacher downloads can be found at Robots Tour.

There’s plenty to do with robots of all kinds in this exhibit. You can pose as a robot, browse the collection of drawings displayed in flat file draws at an artist’s table, build your own little robots that whirl and spin, or set up dominoes in various patterns. With parental help, the robot building can be fun for younger ones. Allyson enjoyed trying it but everything was very simplistic and didn’t hold her interest for long. She spent far more time building a domino trail which fell in under 30 seconds at the slightest nudge of her finger.

There’s a fun display of famous robots from the media. We found C3PO, Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still, and the nameless robot from Lost in Space (the original). Speaking of that robot, did you know the famous phrase, “Danger, Will Robinson!” was only used once on the show? Funny how a little thing like that can become such a part of pop culture.

Allyson really enjoyed getting her picture taken with the Governor of California, I mean the Terminator (not artificial life-size). This particular terminator was from Terminator 2. RoboCop was there too, but he’s not nearly as cool. **I took a few minutes here to find a memorable quote from RoboCop to soften the earlier statement that he wasn’t as cool as the Terminator. However, I barely found any quotes that made sense, much less were memorable. Sorry if you’re a fan.**

After the Robot exhibit, we toured the other areas. At The World Within Us exhibit, you can “drive” an orange VW bug, experiencing the sensation of driving under the influence. I don’t see how that’s science. Seems more like a preachable moment than a teachable one. The Time Machine is always a big hit, but the wait is terrible. Also, if you don’t hold super-super still, the images don’t turn out that great. There’s a really cool Amazing Beginnings exhibit that I hadn’t seen before. Eight embryos and fetuses show the progression of cells to baby. However, without interaction it was dull for kids. Maybe more will be added to it.

The World Around Us exhibit is always fun, especially if you love animals. This is a regular exhibit at the center, but it’s fun and interesting. There are lots of animals to read about and some interactive areas that encourage the little ones.

The World We Create exhibit is probably my least favorite. It has plenty of interactive exhibits, but it pertains too much to engineering and building and the like. We didn’t stay long.

The KidZone is technically for those kiddos 7 and under, but we all went in anyway. We were told we could – so get that look off your face. This has to be one of the best areas of the Louisville Science Center. It’s not particularly science-y, but it’s hugely interactive and extremely entertaining as well. You can fly a plane, drive a bus, make the dinner, visit the hospital, build something at the construction zone and run the plumbing. There’s even a zone for really little ones that aren’t walking yet that looks like the surface of the moon – all cheesy, soft and full of holes. You get to it through the space shuttle. I chased Allyson and the others around through the (not adult-sized) airplane trying to take pictures of them. I majorly hit my head really hard on a low clearance once. Epic fail.

A Thanksgiving Poem

In this time of true thanksgiving,
I stop to think of how I’m living.

Most days in pain, and not just physical.
Slightly grumpy is too often typical.

I do too little, though I take on too much.
I fall too short, or some other such.

In family, I’m the weakest link.
I shudder to know what my friends think.

But Jesus came and offered me grace.
So forgiveness is mine in this crazy race.

And forgiveness does truly abound.
From family and friends it can also be found.

So I’m truly thankful in this season.
And true forgiveness is the biggest reason.

I Got to First Base


Jeffersonville Thunder Bat

The Louisville Slugger Art That Swings artist reception was held on a Saturday night at the Louisville Slugger Museum. Rob and Allyson attended with me. All the decorated and altered bats were on display in a long room upstairs away from other Museum attractions. Each artist was responsible for setting up their own display. Some were quite elaborate. Sluggers ranged from beautiful to whimsical (in my opinion). A few artists were well known in the area.

Slugger Lilies

Jean Schettler created a stunning bat inspired by one of her paintings, Jeffersonville Thunder, which won First Place, Mayor’s Choice and People’s Choice awards at the 2008 Jeff Fest.

Another well know artist, Ray Day, created Slugger Lilies inspired by his interest in the actual flower. It was a beautiful piece and was chosen to be awarded via silent auction at the event.

Rob came up with a great idea to display my Louisville Slugger. Allyson has a small grand-piano-style doll piano. We used it to add to the theme of my bat – Swing Music. It made a nice presentation and created a larger vision for people to pour over. I received lots of compliments but no awards.

Swing Music

All Sluggers were up for grabs to any of the generous financial sponsors of the fundraiser. Each sponsor was announced (in order of contribution amount), thanked and allowed to peruse the bats and select the one they wished to have.

My bat was selected by Rodefer Moss & Co PLLC in downtown New Albany, IN. I was extremely pleased that it was selected and having it stay local was an added perk. So stop by the offices of Rodefer Moss for your financial needs or just to take in the beauty of my Louisville Slugger.

So You Think You Can Make Me Laugh

Comedian Matt BridgesI went out last night with my sister, Dorothy, to Diamond’s Pub and Billiards on Frankfort Ave. We met up with some more of my family. Does alcoholism run in my family? No. But funny does. We were all there to watch one of our own get up on stage to roll out some jokes and make us laugh.

My nephew, Matt Bridges, has become a comedian. I guess “become” isn’t the best word since he’s always been a comedian. I can’t remember my sister, Sharon (his mother), ever taking a picture that you wouldn’t later find Matt’s head somewhere in it peaking out with a goofy grin or silly face like a Where’s Waldo character. It was inevitable.

I’ve been to see Matt on stage a couple times now. He uses situational and observational humor and tells stories from his experiences as a regular guy, a family man, a father. No, he doesn’t make fun of his family – even though the Indiana Jones of Feces (a bit on potty training his daughter) was pretty funny.

Matt Hit My Aunt Dorothy

And on the quirky side, which I suppose all comedians are, he takes pictures with his friends, family and anyone at the show, while they smack, hit, choke or otherwise humiliate him. Here are a few from last night with appropriate tag-lines. Enjoy.

Matt Being Choked By Aunt Dorothy

Above you’ll see Matt’s Aunt Dorothy, generally a docile woman, taking a punch at him for dragging her out on a work night. She has to be at the post office at 6:00 a.m. Oh… I guess that explains the hostility. She was going “postal” on him.

Matt Being Choked by Tommy

When he didn’t apologize fast enough, she decided to choke an apology out of him. The funny thing is, my other nephew, Tommy, just stood in the background laughing at the whole thing saying, “This is your best bit yet, Matt.”

Tommy finally realized Aunt Dorothy beating Matt up wasn’t part of the act. So he jumped in to squeeze an apology out of him on Aunt Dorothy’s behalf.

Unfortunately Matt couldn’t speak while being choked. He eventually just passed out and Tommy kicked him in the ribs. He did – really. I don’t have a picture of it because I was distracted by my niece, Sandy, and I looked away.

Matt Being Smacked by Sandy

You can see here to the right why she diverted my attention. I caught her later smacking Matt a good one.

But, all in all, it was an enjoyable evening. Matt made us laugh and we all got to punch him for it.

Be sure to get out sometime and see Matt when he’s doing his stand up. You can check out his schedule at his website. Or just stop in anywhere you see girls beating up some silly guy. It’s probably us.

Just FYI – Matt’s really thrilled to be competing in Kentucky’s First Annual Comedy Derby Contest. No – the comedians aren’t running a race carrying jockeys – I asked. It’s at 4th Street Live’s Improv Comedy Club on Sept. 30th, Oct. 14th and Nov. 4th, 2009. Matt will be competing in the Nov. 14th show. So come on out and support the area’s finest stand up comedians and especially the finest comedian of all, the Comedian Matt Bridges.

A Rainy Day at the Louisville Zoo

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicAllyson and I went with friends to the Louisville Zoo this past Saturday. We haven’t been in so long that the polar bears and otters (two of our fave critters to see) were gone. They’re building a new exhibit called Glacier Run where I’m assuming these guys will be housed again. Makes a person wonder where they are right now? I kept looking over my shoulder whenever I heard a loud noise.

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicThe Zoo added a really cool Sky Trail High Adventure Course for kiddos and adults. It’s not free – $7 per person – but there’s no time limit. Allyson did really well even though she confessed later that some of it was a little nerve-racking. There are areas where you tight-rope walk and some where you must cross various obstacles – like alternating board planks. I didn’t try it myself (so I could take pics of Allyson, of course) but Allyson and her friend would do it again and again. Next time, I’ll put them up there and go sit down at the nearby Islands Cafe.