Great Father’s Day Weekend

I had a great weekend, we got a lot done around the house (removed bushes, moved hutch in, changed out beds in Eva’s room), we ate at the new Thai place Spice & Herb which was really good – I tried Ghost Peppers for first time, we swam in the pool, i drank my fair share of Coronas, and just enjoyed our weekend.

This is a really cute card Ella filled out about me (I added some notes in case you can’t read her phonetic spelling):

Here comes Summer…

Spring is here

Dude free falls from space and lives

Photo By: Jay Nemeth/Red Bull Stratos/AP

During the first manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos, Felix Baumgartner jumped out over Roswell, New Mexico and landed safely 13 miles below, falling at speeds up to 364 mph.

Suprisingly this was not a new record, two previous jumps were from higher altitude:

US Air Force pilot Joseph Kittinger set a manned-balloon altitude record in 1961, then jumped from the balloon, which had reached 102,800 feet (19.46 miles!). In 1962, Russian Eugene Andreev completed a jump from 80,380 feet. Baumgartner’s plunge on Thursday came at 71,581 feet (13.56 miles).

So how is he going to top that? By performing a 23-mile dive during which he would actually break the sound barrier! Check out this cool infographic about the jump:

Dollar Shave Club and Spill-Proof Beer

These two commercial are way better than anything I’ve seen on tv in awhile.

Ralph McQuarrie was a true visionary

Ralph McQuarrie, artist, born June 13, 1929; died March 3. 2012

Ralph McQuarrie was born in Gary, Indiana and survived a bullet to the head in the Korean War, either of which could have prevented him from becoming the most influential concept artist of modern science fiction. He brought to life the original Star Wars trilogy, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Raiders of Lost Ark, Battlestar Galactica and Cocoon, among others.

In fact, George Lucas’s Star Wars script was flat out rejected by movie studios until he had McQuarrie’s amazing paintings to display the grand vision of his universe. McQuarrie originated the look of many of the iconic characters, spacecraft and unique locations.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of such a visionary artist and such a humble man. Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars. His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.’

“Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists—all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed. Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau. In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry. In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come. Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator.”

—George Lucas

“Darth, R2-D2 and all of that came out of those first three or four weeks in early 1975,” said McQuarrie. “George gave me a script and I went away for a while. He said, ‘Do what interests you.’ It was like hearing music and seeing what you hear.”

When Spielberg asked him to design the mothership for the climax of Close Encounters, the artist drew on a dream from years earlier, in which he had seen an awe-inspiring spacecraft with pipes and stairways jutting out from its underside. Spielberg turned that concept on its head, so that the protuberances were now crowded onto the top of the ship like a tightly-packed metropolis.

McQuarrie often relied on the unconscious part of his mind to generate inspiration. “I used to try squeezing work out, but it’s like toothpaste in a tube that will only come out so fast … There’s no point pounding my brain – the best thing I can do is collect my thoughts as soon as I’m told what’s needed. Then I lie down and let it gel unconsciously. I sort of semi-sleep, and somewhere along the way of going to sleep or coming out of it, I get exactly what I need – it’s just there, rising like the bubbles in champagne from somewhere inside.”

– Excerpt from The Guardian

Here is one of many tributes I found that show some of his paintings…

There are also some great interviews and galleries at

Destino – Dali and Disney

I cant’s think of two more imaginative artists than Salvador Dali and Walt Disney.

Nerd Moment: Star Wars action figures find their way home again

My lovely mother just shepherded my long lost star wars action figures from my childhood home to my treasured collection of fine junk. Here Ella arranged them neatly for me to take a pic:

I spent hours with these little guys growing up and if you know me at all, you have an idea that I thought Star Wars was a pretty big deal. Now if I could just find the Falcon. Or for that matter my Speeder, Tie Fighter, X-Wing or Death Star with foam garbage for the trash compactor!

Come to think of it, where are all my GI Joe guys too – probably still exhausted from the legendary kung fu fights they endured!

Or how about my beloved Matchbox Jaguar (ala The Equalizer) and the bazillion police cars that chased The General Lee over every inch of my parent’s house.

I guess i’ll just have to re-live my childhood vicariously through my daughters – it’s fun watching the girls play with toys, and treasure little trinkets they get their hands on.

Not so snowy winter

This winter has not brought us a lot of snow, so I am glad we got out and made a snowman and threw snowballs when we got the chance.

The very next day, our snowman did not look so good:

My 2011 Theater Report

Well it’s that time again, where I look back and see how many times I got to sit in the dark with strangers and take the full theater experience of cinema. Turns out the magic number for 2011 was 36, which is 3 more times than in 2010, which is surprising because I feel like I went to very few movies after summer ended. (1/3 of the films were kids movies that Ella and I went to)

Anyways, here they are, with a quick note on the film. (Blue ones were my favorites):

  • The King’s Speech:
    Proof that great actors can make any storyline interesting.
  • 127 Hours:
    Tough not to cringe at times, but well done movie, reminded me of Castaway in some ways
  • Yogi Bear:
    Remember the TV show “Ed”?
  • The Tourist:
    Depp & Jolie what could go wrong?
  • Gnomeo & Juliet:
    Ella says “I liked it because they would stay still, and then they’d move. I liked it that way.”
  • Unknown:
    I think someone said, how could we do “Taken” again. But I am fine with that, I can watch Liam Nesson be a tough guy anytime, when does “Grey” come out?
  • Rango:
    Really cool flick, just not a kids movie at all.
  • Adjustment Bureau:
    Another decent movie made from the brilliant ideas of Philip K. Dick.
  • Battle Los Angeles:
    Mediocore war/alien movie.
  • Mars Needs Moms:
    Ok, kid flick.
  • Limitless:
    Love the concept and I think it could have gone even farther.
  • Source Code:
    Perhaps my favorite movie of 2011. Definitely the worst movie title though.
  • Hanna:
    How do we do Taken, but replace Liam Nesson with a 12 year old girl?
  • Rio:
    Ella says “I like how the bird learned how to fly. And the birds singing and dancing.”
  • Thor:
    One of many comic book movies I saw last year. Might have enjoyed this one the most.
  • Bridesmaids:
    Laugh riot. (Highest grossing R-rated female comedy of all time, edging out Sex and the City)
  • Priest:
    Should have been way better – check out the cast, Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Brad Dourif, Stephen Moyer, Christopher Plummer, etc.
  • The Hangover 2:
    Same story different Continent. Not as funny.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2:
    Ella says “I didnt like it as much as Rio and Gnomeo”
  • Tree Of Life:
    What a trip…not sure where to even begin.
  • X-Men First Class:
    The corny dialogue killed it for me. I should give it another chance and pretend its meant to be funny.
  • The Green Lantern:
    Anything that shows life on other planets is cool with me.
  • Transformers 3 – the Dark of the Moon:
    IMAX 3D made this totally watchable, unlike the first two.
  • Horrible Bosses:
    Had its moments.
  • Captain America First Avenger:
    No wait, was this the best comic book movie of 2011? So hard to say.
  • The Smurfs:
    Ella says “I liked it because they were blue and tiny. And that’s really all I liked about it.”
  • Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes:
    Enjoyable, but expected more actual uprising.
  • Contagion:
    I am still washing my hands….
  • The Lion King 3D:
    Ella says “I liked wearsing the (3D) glasses and it looked like it qawas coming right up to you”
  • 50/50:
    Who knew cancer could be funny? I think this was the best all-around film I saw in theaters last year.
  • The Rum Diary:
    I have a soft spot for anything Hunter related.
  • Puss In Boots:
    Ella says she liked the cat that says “Ahwwww” in  the awkward moments.
  • In Time:
    Apparently if you put Justin Timberlake in a movie Erin suddenly likes sci-fi.
  • Happy Feet 2:
    Ella says “I liked it cause they could do that thing with their feet”
  • Hugo:
    Took Ella expecting a kids movie, turned out more for me than her.
  • The Muppets:
    Ella says “I liked Kermit the Frog, and that’s really all I want to say about that.”

Forgot one, so I guess it actually 37 in 2011 (I get cooler all the time). Here is the missing movie…

  • HOP:
    Ella saw it twice, but both times was with a big group of kids, so it was good twice. I’ll stick with once though, thanks.