It’s Finals Week here at the school, so I find myself in the unenviable position of working here at the library until 2 a.m., and in the doubly unenviable position of closing by myself. It’s not so much extra work per se, but it’s hard enough to kick everyone out when we close at midnight during the semester. The few brave souls who stay all the way until 2 during finals are really hesitant to leave. I don’t know whether I should admire their dedication or pity the fact that they, like Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, have no place else to go.
* * *
Erin had her baby shower this weekend. Got to see lots of family and friends we don’t see that often, and my parents even came down to visit, so you know that’s a real happening occasion (getting my dad to leave Maine is only slightly less difficult than getting a devout Hindu person to order the Double Whopper Value Meal). Well, Erin got to see most of them, anyway. My job was to keep our dads occupied while this went on, and then come in at the end to carry the presents home. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because A.) baby showers bore me (which I know for a fact from being required to attend one or two held during lunch breaks at my old job); and B.) I got to eat a large portion of the leftover food (cake two weekends in a row… woo!).
This reminded me of two things that have amazed me most about the whole baby thing these past 8 months (you know, besides the whole “miracle of life” deal). The first thing is the sheer amount of astoundingly cool but in-truth-probably-unnecessary baby-related items on the market today. I mean, countless generations of parents got by without Diaper Genies, Boppy pillows or babywipe warmers, so I’m willing to bet we don’t truly need ‘em either. But do we want them anyway? Oh hells yes! Who cares about the necessity of a babywipe warmer… it’s damn cool!
The second thing is the sheer number of these items you can get emblazoned with Winnie the Pooh on them. Damn, when I was a kid, the only place you could buy Pooh stuff was Sears. They had stuffed animals, pajamas and maybe shoes. End of list. Now you can buy Winnie the Pooh lotion, fer cryin’ out loud (Just think of the number of Poohbears cut off in their prime and squeezed to make that stuff. Sad.). And since we have decorated Liam’s room with a Classic Pooh theme (meaning it looks more like the original books than the Disney movies… and by the way, it all looks pretty effing awesome, if I do say so myself), we now have a firsthand look at the amount of Pooh merch available for a baby’s every conceivable need. By the time we get everything set up and put away, the room will look like A.A. Milne’s head exploded in there or something.
* * *
If there’s a greater video game out there than Lego Star Wars, I don’t know what it could possibly be. This could have been just another run of the mill platform jumping collect-a-thon, but the designers pulled out all the stops here, creating a game that controls intuitively (playing equally well to game newbies and seasoned pros), delivers a new and quirky take on familiar material and looks truly unique. It captures the look and feel of both the Star Wars and Lego universes in a way that manages to stay true to both without sacrificing any crucial elements on either side of the equation in order to make it work. And it’s crazy fun (and funny). Rent this at the very least (though if you have any sense of fun at all, you’ll buy). And if you don’t have a game system or strong enough PC to run it, make a run to your local big box electronics store and fix that problem toot sweet. We’re talking killer app here, kids.
Still more proof that the less George Lucas is directly involved with a Star Wars project, the better it tends to be (see also: Clone Wars cartoon, Episodes V and VI)
* * *
Speaking of seemingly ill-advised but surprisingly cool Star Wars / pop culture mash-ups, I had to cave and buy a Darth Tater. It’s too bizarrely cute for words. Well worth the investment, if only because 25 years from now, you’re going to try and explain to people that there was once this Mr. Potato-Head that could dress up as Darth Vader, and they’re going to ask you if you’ve taken your medication yet today. The conversation will go much smoother if you have some actual proof to back this up.
* * *
Speaking of still more bizarre pop culture mash-ups, I picked up an awesome book today (in the check-out line of Old Navy, of all places) called Krazy Kids’ Food! (exclamation is the book's, not my own) It’s one of those little art books put out by the Taschen people that shows pictures of old advertising and packaging for candy, cereal and other treats aimed at kids, ranging from the surprisingly hip (Krazy Foam cans looked awesome in the pre-licensed character days, a bit like the older Pez) to the just-plain-odd (Gigantor bubble bath, or candy kisses in a box bearing the likeness of Lee Falk’s The Phantom… who wouldn’t want a taste of confectionary love from good ol’ Mr. Walker?*). Some great stuff to be found, if you like that sort of thing (I do).
* * *
Lastly, Alan David Doane over at Comic Book Galaxy started what he called an “unmeme,” asking people what they watch on TV these days. It’s late and there isn’t really anything better to do here, so I’ll bite.
Do to my bizarre work schedule, I watch very little TV anymore, and what I do manage to see is very rarely at its time of original airing. If not for Tivo and the amount of shows on DVD these days, I doubt I’d see anything anymore. It’s made even worse by the fact that I don’t enjoy watching a lot of shows by myself anymore, so there’s plenty of stuff that I really like when I do see it (like Lost or The Amazing Race), but if Erin isn’t there to watch it with me, I have no interest whatsoever. But anyway, here’s what I have seen lately in one format or another and really enjoyed.
Good Eats – Truthfully, this is probably my favorite show on TV. I’ve eaten very well these past few years thanks to Alton Brown.
CSI: The Good One – AKA the original show, the Vegas one. Still consistently intelligent and riveting (mostly) after all this time, though the annual “Let’s Campaign to Get Marg Helgenberg an Emmy” episode usually ends up getting on my nerves (this year’s was no exception).
The Alternative – A block Modern/Alt/Prog/Punk rock videos from the 80s and 90s on VH1 Classic, which is one of the best music channels on all of cable (in that it actually plays videos). Though the programmers of this particular show are a little too obsessed with Johnny Rotten’s other band, Public Image, Ltd, which strikes me as odd. That’s like being the world’s biggest Paul McCartney & Wings fan or something.
Arrested Development – Discovered the first season via DVD, and it’s probably the funniest sitcom I’ve ever seen. I’m a bad person, though; I haven’t watched more than 5 minutes of the second season on actual TV and am waiting for the DVDs so I can catch up then. I’m part of the problem, I know.
Robot Chicken – Funniest show on Adult Swim, bar none. Seth Green and the other guy (you know, the not famous one) make toys do even crazier stuff than the scenarios we’d invent as kids on Pixy Stick highs (prostate cancer PSAs with Optimus Prime, re-enactments of the movie Midnight Madness, etc).
Wonderfalls – Well-written, great cast, intriguing premise, and quirky as all get out. Never stood a chance, did it?
Freaks and Geeks – See also: Wonderfalls.
Justice League Unlimited – If only the freakin’ comic books it was based on were this good.
The Daily Show – Like so many Americans now, this is the only news source I trust. I can’t figure out if that’s a sad commentary on me or on the state of American journalism. Probably a bit of both.
X-Play – The only show on G4/Tech TV that doesn’t make me wish my head would explode. Informative and well-thought-out video game reviews delivered by genuinely funny, entertaining hosts (though a little Adam Sessler goes a long way; Morgan Webb is more tolerable over a longer period of time).
*For the Ghost Who Walks.