Monday, April 30, 2012

The Longest Week's Features

There is but one thing on my mind this week.  Anyone who knows me (or read our last post) ought to realize that is the upcoming release of The Avengers this Friday.  My excitement has left me unable to keep from talking about the potential of the film, remembering what it was that I walked into the other room for or get a decent night’s sleep.

In an effort to calm myself down, I have tried to remind myself that not everything Avengers related has always been a hit in my book (and that doesn’t even include the Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman movie from 1998).  Thus, while the weekly features will be Avengers-laden, our top five list looks to temper my fan-boy instinct by chronicling the five lamest Avengers in my opinion complete with the link to their page on the Mrvel Universe site.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Can Hold Out 5 More Days...Can't I?

Back in the second half of 2007, when the first trailers for Iron Man were made available for public consumption, the wheels in my head started turning.

"An Avengers movie is possible," I reasoned with my brother.  "They already did the Hulk (though they did a better one later) so if they can just make stand alone movies for Thor and Captain America, they are set.  A few other side characters (Giant Man and Wasp, I had originally reasoned) could be added into the storyline somewhere along the way."

Months later, I went to see Iron Man but had not expected the big reveal in the hidden scene after the credits.  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, a superhero film with the human side to his alter-ego exposed and as I sat through the end credits, reveling in what my eyes had just taken in, a few words changed my entire world.

"I'm hear to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative."

I gasped and flailed wildly for my wife's in the theater, not wanting to divert my attention from the screen lest some other mind blowing event might take place.

"Oh my God!  Did you hear that?  That mean's they're making an Avengers movie!" I nearly shouted.  At least that's what I tried to say, but the wheezing and gurgling that I emitted instead most likely left my wife thinking that I was having a synthetic butter flavoring induced stroke.

From that point on, I spoke about the possibilities of the impending Marvel mash-up at every opportunity I could find to squeeze it into a conversation.  I sought to educate interested moviegoers on which characters they might expect to see.  If someone was not a Marvel fan, I tried to show them the error of their ways.  I was a dedicated disciple, attempting to lead the masses toward what I was sure could be nothing less than superhero film salvation.

The four years that have passed since have been a blur.  Every personal and family memory gauged by the point on the developing story timeline at which it took place.  Like the Aztec calendar, my brain counted down the days until a life changing event when all other things would cease to mater any longer.  Every day from that to May 4th 2012 would be lived just to behold what was to be shown before me on a screen.

And now, that day has nearly arrived.  My family has been informed that I will be spending several hours in a theater this Friday and it is entirely up to them whether or not they would like to be there with me.  Either way, I will be in my seat well before the previews begin and there will be no bathroom breaks.  I have already begun stretching out my bladder tolerance with super-sized Mountain Dews and Double Gulps.  I will be a focused, movie watching machine by the time friday arrives...which cannot happen soon enough.

This may very well be the longest week of my life.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Third Person Thursday: The Most Popular Kid at School

“That shirt is so awesome.”

“Thanks, Billy,” he responded, looking down to admire it on his own torso.  “It’s one of my favorite t-shirts.  Probably in my top three, definitely in my top five.”

“I like how Thor is holding the hammer,” Billy elaborated, mimicking it with his hand held aloft over his own head.

“Yeah, he looks pretty cool, right?”

“He’s, like one of the strongest super heroes,” Billy informed him.

“Yeah,” he agreed, “but Hulk is even stronger.  He’s like the strongest one there is.”

“Are you gonna see the Avengers when it comes out?”


“Did you see the commercials?” asked Billy, excitedly.

“I’m wearing a Thor t-shirt but I haven’t seen the commercials for the Avengers?  C’mon, Billy.”

“Wanna know what my favorite part is?” Billy asked then continued without waiting for an answer.  “It’s when the Hulk jumps and hits the building and then he’s like, WHAM!” Billy swung his fist through the air.  “Then he’s all like, WHAM!”  He swung his fist back the other way.

“Oh yeah, and he’s all, FOOSH, and smashes that bad guy against the building?  That’s so awesome.  And did you see the part where that giant thing is chasing Iron Man and he’s all like, ‘I’m bringing the party to you,’ and they look up and they’re all like, ‘Whoa,’ ‘cause that huge machine thing is like right behind him and chasing him past the building?”

“Yeah,” Billy shouted, “and it hits the side of the building all like, WHOOOOSH, SMASH!  I love that part!”

“Billy!"  The call came from across the parking lot.  Billy turned to see his mother waving to him.  “It’s time to go!”

“Go ahead, Billy, I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay,” said Billy and turned to run.  “Nice talking to you Mr. Benedict,” he called over his shoulder and ran to meet his mother.

“Dad,” said the small voice next to Mr. Benedict.  “What was Billy talking to you about?”

“Hi Colin,” Mr. Benedict said and tousled his son’s hair.  “He likes daddy’s t-shirt.”

They began their walk to the car.

“Can Billy come over and play later today?” asked Colin.

“Of course,” said Mr. Benedict.  “He seems like a nice kid.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kids These Days

When I pick up my sons from school, I often find myself overwhelmed by the swarming crowds of children pouring from the institution like locusts descending upon a field of grain.  Walking along the sidewalk, I feel as if we have become engulfed in a river of adolescent fervor and I fear being swept away by the current of preteen hormone fueled mass.  At that point, I grip my sons’ hands tightly for dear life, which probably makes them uncomfortable because they are at the cusp of the age when such things will begin to embarrass them, especially while surrounded by an ocean of their friends.

But this is a natural reaction to crowds for me.  I avoid them whenever possible, but there’s only so much you can do when your seven and nine year olds need a ride home, so I tolerate it the best I can.

Over several years, I find that the aspect of this afterschool madness which has come to bother me the most is not the crowd itself.  I am somewhat capable of staying in touch with my own childhood (maybe you’ve noticed) and can understand the excitement of being released from your day long holding cell while surrounded by a like-minded mob.  What grates on me is the complete disregard of any grown-ups in the crowd.

I have watched kids shove one another with adults in the midst of the crowd.  Sometimes the shoving victim runs into one of the parents, including me.  Kids will spit, swear and fight all without the slightest concern that a nearby adult will grab them by the ear and shout, “Knock it off!”

Perhaps this is an indication that I am getting older.  This may be a back-in-my-day moment, but I don’t think it is.  More likely, I feel it is disgust at the sloppiness of the current generation’s misbehavior.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sorry, Earth...I Suck

It’s Earth Day and the Earth really is something to celebrate, isn’t it?  It has been a spectacular place to live (at least for the past 2.4 billion years or so, prior to that the lack of free oxygen would have made it pretty smelly and awfully suffocating) and has provided us with some really awesome natural wonders.  You have Mt. Everest, the Amazon, the Serengeti Desert, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore and the Great Wall of China.  Wait, those last two were us…well, you get the picture.

I am a lover of the outdoors and all things nature (except mosquitoes; I hate those little bastards).  While I haven’t exactly hugged any trees, I climbed a lot of them when I was a kid and played outside any chance I could get until the invention of the original Nintendo Entertainment System.  However, if I am to be honest with myself, the conservation of this great planet and its current state of affairs has never been as high a priority in my life as it probably ought to be.

Whether it be Styrofoam, alkaline batteries or dog poop I am not great at making the effort to properly dispose of potentially harmful substances.  I will give myself credit for not carelessly discarding obsolete electronic devices, though.  I keep most of them tucked away in the storage spaces of my house or garage, convinced that in the future, when the zombie apocalypse hits, I may be able to assemble some sort of time machine out of the harvested parts and go back to create an antidote.  At the very least, they will provide heavy objects I can hurl at the heads of the lumbering monstrosities that mean to eat my brains.  Kudos to me.

Earth Day Weekly Features

Sunday is the usual time to update the weekly features and it’s also Earth Day.  Hence, we will start with our top five ways to celebrate ordered in increasing difficulty…

5. Wait another day to discard old batteries – Go ahead and throw them right into that landfill tomorrow, but don’t do it today.  Show the earth some respect.

4. Replace burnt out light bulbs in your home with energy efficient ones – It’s something you out to get off your butt and do anyway, so why not make them bulbs that cost more and produce dimmer light but use less energy.

3. Assemble a Lego set by candlelight – No energy needed to have a good time here.  As an added bonus, the candles will probably provide better light to read the assembly instructions by than the energy efficient bulbs you just installed.

2. Walk, don’t drive – God or evolution or some non-conflicting mixture of the two provided you with those paddles at the ends of your legs for a reason other than working the pedals in your car.  Use them.

1. Hook your television and DVD player up to an exercise bike and use it to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient TruthHappy Feet, Avatar and The Lorax are also acceptable substitutes.

This week’s cool-ass thing you will never own is a space station.  It would be nice to have that outer space home away from home for when our planet’s resources are all used up, but maintenance on these bad boys is really difficult.  You would totally have to hire a full time cleaning staff.

This week’s sign you are a nerd is your hosting of a 3rd Rock from the Sun marathon.  What’s not to like?  You have the classically great comedic timing of John Lithgow and Jane Curtin, the beginnings of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s career and Kristen Johnston was still kind of hot when she was on the show.  But what ever happened to French Stewart?  That was one mean Martin Short shtick he did.

This week’s nemesis is graphic novels.  I love to read.  I also love looking at pictures.  There are so many enticing graphic novels out there.  I have plenty of them stacked on my desk, waiting for me to crack them open.  Yet I get funny looks from passers-by in public for reading what they call “comic books” and get self conscious so instead of enjoying the nicer weather this time of year with a book, I am shunned indoors because I can’t help but want to read the graphic novels.

This week’s lesson learned is to check the cap on a bottle of liquid or semi-solid before you shake it vigorously.  The convenience of gel dishwashing soap is negated by having to wipe it up from your cabinets and countertop and cleaning out of your hair.

With Dick Clark’s death, it can no longer be refuted that the world will end on December 21st of this year.  Thus, I have provided you a method by which to count the days left…

T represents the time left and d is the number of days that have passed since this was posted.

This week’s Star Wars quote is, “No!  Alderaan is peaceful.  We have no weapons.”

Thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for an Earth Day message to be posted later today.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Scorebook of Spells

No doubt, all you nerds out there understand what it feels like to become consumed by something.  It might be Dungeons & Dragons sessions running into the wee hours of the morning fueled by pizza and Mountain Dew, building and prgramming your own fighting robot, researching the process of brewing your favorite beer and trying to recreate it at home or knowing everything about every member and every song from your favorite band.  Regardless of what form it takes, the nerd inside us all drives us to find out more than we have any reason to know about the objects of our current obsession.

After receiving the Obsessed with Marvel trivia book some time ago, my family barely saw me.  I spent so much time alone with it, trying to up my score that the toilet seat in my bathroom was beginning to conform to my rear end like a couch cushion.  Whenever I wasn't trying my hand at questions, I was paging through the Marvel Encyclopedia so that I would be ready for that section of questions regarding Howard the Duck.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Third Person Thursday: The Manager's Speech

As the sun beat down upon his brow and the wind swept through the grass, the manager stalked back and forth.  He had made them run, throw, bat and catch nonstop all practice.  Now his players sat silently before him in right field, some still trying to catch their breath.

He stared them down one by one without a word.  Each made eye contact as he passed, afraid of what might happen if they failed to do so.  The manager liked what he saw.  The players were tired.  They were worn out.  They were broken.  They were his.

He decided the time was right and began his speech.  “The preseason is over, gentlemen,” he began.  “The real thing starts with our first game on Tuesday.  No more fun and games.”

He paused dramatically.  He saw the reality sinking in on each face.  Some nodded.  He continued, “From this point on, when you play lazy, when you don’t give it your all, when you screw up,” he raised his voice there and paused again, his eyes wide, “you aren’t just robbing yourself of practice time anymore.  You aren’t just hurting yourself, you’re hurting the whole team.”

The players all stared at the manager as he suddenly jogged off to the side and grabbed a glove from near the foul line.  He jogged back in front of the group and started again.  “When you say, ‘I’m just gonna jog over and get that foul ball,’” he said sarcastically as he loped toward the line, mocking a half effort, “and then you blow the play, you just left your pitcher hanging.  That was an out you could have gotten him that you let slide.”

He ripped the glove from his hand, threw it into foul territory and shouted, “That is unacceptable!”  He noticed a few of them jump and smiled, but only on the inside.  “We look out for our teammates around here.  We never give up.  We give all our effort and leave everything on the field.  We play for one another, not just ourselves and not one of your better forget that.”

He pointed a rigid finger at them and glared.  The players sat spellbound.  They were putty in his hands now.  He could smell victory.  He could smell the championship.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ol' Smokey

While I pick up my dog’s droppings, I look up at my pet-less neighbor enjoying his serene backyard, completely peaceful except for the odor wafting in his direction, and I grumble, “You’re not missing out on anything.”

In reality, that is not true.  He is missing out.

When you are gone, your pet misses you.  When you return home, they are happy.  There is an unconditional love, a loyal, steady companionship that you receive from a pet.  They quickly become more than possessions, and turn into family members.  They are with you in good times and in bad, through happy, through sad, and love you just the same in any state.

When I complain to my neighbor about our dog, I am just being human.  By “human” I mean I am being petty and overemphasizing inconveniences.  Pets do not know how to be human.  They don’t know how to complain, but they do know how to stay by our sides, how to rely on us, how to come sit beside us when they sense we are sad, worried or stressed.

This is Smokey…

He has been a part of my sister-in-law’s life for seventeen years.  They have seen so many of the peaks and valleys of life together.  They have moved from place to place, each always with the other by their side to comfort them.

Over the weekend, Smokey became visibly ill.  It became quickly apparent that it was no minor health problem and on Sunday he died.  And when he died, my sister-in-law lost a family member.

There is little I can do to fill the void left by Smokey’s absence.  All I can do is say that he will be missed and that I appreciate Smokey for being there for such a long time for someone that I care about and I hope that he rests in peace.

Thank you, Smokey.  Godspeed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

W(G)eekly Features

Still hungover from the nerdgasm of the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, I realize I must return to the grind and provide some long overdue updates to the weekly features.  Of course, as my mind still spins from all the awesome things I saw over my two days at the convention, every category will focus on the glory that was C2E2, starting with our top five awesome things we saw there...

5. John Cusack - How cool is this guy?  Sure, he's the seasoned Hollywood actor, adept at putting on the face that seems appropriate, but his Q&A session on Sunday made him seem like a genuinely decent dude.  The star of the upcoming film The Raven graciously let fans come up to the stage to take photos with him (much to the dismay of the staff on hand) and kept his cool, collected onscreen demeanor throughout the event.  It made me think back to his film catalog and realize that, while I may not have always liked all his movies, I liked his character in all his movies.  Of course, maybe that's because he was basically portraying himself in all of them.  I have included below the blurry photo I took in a frenzy of fanboy emotion despite leaving my good camera at home.

We love you, John!

4. Mjolnir - Cap is my all time favorite (see #3) but one of the best super hero weapons of all time may be the mighty Thor's hammer.  Had I an extra six grand to drop at the convention, you may have seen me wielding this bad boy around the neighborhood.

Whosoever has cash enough to purchase this hammer shall
possess the copyrighted image of Thor

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Weekend Has a Pro in a Con

People my age (how dare you ask that?!) still seem to have a tendency to hide their geeky side deep within.  When out in public, we tend to speak more of our mainstream interests.

How about those Bears?  When do you think he’ll officially drop out of the race?  OMG, did you see Alex go off on Matt on the last 16 & Pregnant?  It’s about time she stood up for herself.

Well, maybe we don’t sell out quite that hard, but most of us have participated in the denial of our true form at some point in our lives, whether it was to avoid a wedgie, noogie, swirly or just the condescending laughter of a cute girl.  The stomach turning shame that associates such a split second decision to blend in with the crowd is something most geeks fully understand.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's Tough, but I Manage

I’ve heard it said that being the manager of a professional baseball team is not easy.  It takes years, if not decades of baseball experience to excel at the position.  Planning, analysis and gut feelings all must intertwine to help any big league manager get an edge.

But you would never know that from looking at them.

For the most part the iconic managers (the LaRussa’s, Lasorda’s, Pinella’s and the Cox’s) stand at the railing of the dugout staring stoic and statue-like out at the action.  They spit every now and then and make a few silent hand gestures.  At their most animated they run out onto the field to swear in the face of the umpire and kick dirt.

I respectfully suggest that managing a Major League Baseball club cannot be half as difficult as managing a pee-wee team.  I submit my argument below for your approval.

Monday, April 9, 2012

They're Heeee-ere

OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG, O...M...G!!!!!

(deep breath)


Ahem...what I meant to say was that today is a day to celebrate.  Today, the Marvel Super Heroes Lego sets have become available.  As I write this, the main page for the sets still reads "Coming Soon," but I assure you that at the Lego Shop page, they are listed as available.

The thing that caught me off guard was that I was expecting sets tied into next month's Avengers film.  I had already seen the minifigure versions of Thor, Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, etc.  What I did not expect was an X-Men set that included minifigure versions of Wolverine, Deadpool and Magneto.  Cool!

Now if you'll excuse me, research needs to be done here in the Transformer Generation Dad household.  If I am to properly manipulate my sons into using their Easter money to purchase a few of these sets, I need to maximize the minifigures that will be acquired.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Save the Drama

Several years ago, I started watching a new show at my wife's request.  I had never been a big fan of medical dramas, but my wife assured me that this one portrayed the doctors as real people with real life problems.  It was supposedly engaging and entertaining.

"Doctors are real people?" I asked myself.  "This I have to see."

For six long seasons, I watched the lives of the characters on Grey's Anatomy with great interest.  I watched as the over-worked, over-sexed, melodramatic interns turned to residents.  I followed the flurry of relationship-related stress and did my best to keep track of who was dating who and which one hated the other.

Then, somewhere near the end of the sixth season, I threw my hands up and folded.  "That's it," I said.  "I'm done.  I give."

It had broken me.  The constant drama, the overwhelming strife, the ridiculousness of the challenges faced by the constant rotation of characters who seemed to enter and exit through a revolving door proved too much for me.  I can't even tell you exactly which plot detail shoved me over the edge.  Perhaps it was the exploding bomb technician.  Maybe it was Meredith's nineteenth nervous breakdown (any Stones fans out there?).  Maybe I never recovered from the grief of George's horrific, disfigured death.  It could have been the constant repetition of Owen's teeth-gritting, bearded, pained expression.  Or maybe it was a culmination of all those things.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Third Person Thursday Celebrates the Geek Tournament Champions

"Captain's Log: Stardate...ah, who knows, those numbers never made sense to me anyway."  The intrepid Captain Solo shifted in his chair at the bridge's helm.  "We will soon be within range of the Empire's latest attempt to build its Death Star."  He dropped the communicator to his side and then mumbled to himself, "Let's all hope it isn't fully functional yet."

"Captain Solo," came Uhura's voice from over his shoulder.

"What is it, Uhura?" he asked.  He turned to look at his communications officer and glanced her up and down.

"I'm detecting something on the scanners. Something off in the distance, the size of a moon."

After taking her in from head to toe one more time, the Captain caught Uhura's eye and winked.  Solo then leaned forward in his seat and squinted thoughtfully at the monitor.  The rest of the crew turned and gazed in awe at what came into their vision.

"Thank you, Uhura, but that's no moon," Captain Solo announced.

"I have a wery bad feeling about this," said Chekov as he and Sulu exchanged a sideways glance.

Monday, April 2, 2012

These Are the Champions, My Friends

The 2012 Geek Tournament is officially over and it was even more fun than last year.  There were some very heated contests, but in the end only four winners could be crowned and mashed up into one combination, with Photoshopped pictures forthcoming in the next few days.

Allow me to I extend my heartfelt thanks to a few people, specifically the selection committee for helping with development; the good people at Cobra for providing a kick-ass prize; Jonathan Liu of GeekDad and the crew at Mental Floss for providing pointers to the contest; my wife for putting up with my neurotic maintenance of the polls; and last but not least, all those who took the time to visit Transformer Generation Dad and vote in this year's event.  The new format proved to be a hit with readers (judging solely by the lack of hurtful emails) and none of this would have been possible without all of you.  Thank you.

But listen to me, going on about the success of the Geek Tournament as if I am the winner.  We all know who the true winners are and they are as follows:

- Han Solo
- The Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D (that's circa the 24th century)
- Spock, Bones, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov & Scotty
- The Star Wars Universe

Of course, there are is also a winner of the Cobra iRadar, but calculating exactly who that is will require some math and that means it will take me a few days.  Sorry for the delay, but the announcement of our prize winner and the impending mash-up images should be completed by the end of the week.

Thanks again for a great Geek Tournament, everyone.  Please continue to stop by and read our content.  Here's looking forward to next year.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Down to the Wire

If you care about the integrity of our Geek Tournament, or about Science Fiction in general, it is your duty to spread the word about the following matchup and get as many of your friends (that includes "friends" as defined by Facebook) to visit this blog and vote.  It is a fight to the death between...
Only one champion can be crowned from our Captain bracket.  You decide!