Thursday, August 28, 2008

School Days

It's hard to believe, but the first day of school is here already. Clay didn't look back; he was so looking forward to school. All day, flashes of my time in school have been coming back to me. The good memories and the bad; the excitement; the angst. It seemed that time dragged. Every school year was a lifetime; every month a decade. It seemed like summer was always so far away, and then it was gone.

To Clay, the next 13 years will see like an eternity, with milestones like first grade, middle school, junior high, driver's license, graduation and college. To me it will fly by much too quickly.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Day George Lucas Lost His Marbles

Ewoks. I hate the Ewoks. I will always remember sitting in the theater at the Beaver Valley Mall on a the first Sunday in June 1977. Seeing the opening battle scene in Star Wars (before it was called "A New Hope") made a lasting impression on me that still give me goosebumps. I think I saw that movie a dozen times that summer. Three years later, "The Empire Strikes Back" came out. It was dark and I didn't like it as much as the original, but is till saw it 5 or 6 times. Then in 1983, "Return of the Jedi", which I had high hopes for, until... Ewoks! George Lucas must have lost his marbles.

Fast forward to 1999. By then "Empire" had become my favorite movie and I looked forward to the new prequel series. That all changed when we were all introduced to Jar-Jar Binks, possibly the single most annoying character in recorded history. He made me long for the days of Ewoks. George Lucas must have lost his marbles.

August 2008; "The Clone Wars". This story takes place between "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith". It uses a weird animation process that makes everyone look like they just popped off some bizarre Byzantine fresco. Normally, I would already know to stay away from this movie, but I have a 5 year old and between the media blitz on TV and the equally bizarre Happy Meal "toys" from McDonald's, we had to go.

The movie revolves around Anakin getting an (annoying) apprentice and the search for the son of Jabba the Hutt, who has been kidnapped by Count Dooku. Still, this might have been a salvageable idea for a story, but alas, no.

So, after watching this movie, I give you the following 8 reasons why George Lucas has finally, truly lost his marbles:

#8 Battle Droids who act more like "Laurel and Hardy" than "Stallone and Schwarzenegger"

#7 Anakin's apprentice calls him "Sky-guy"

#6 Numerous plot holes you could drive a Star Cruiser through.

#5 Jabba's son, who is called "Stinky"

#4 There was no iconic "opening crawl" that has been a staple of the movies and even the video games. Instead there was a narration done in the style of manic, annoying 1930's radio announcer.

#3 Endless battle scenes. After 6 or 7 minutes of clones and droids shooting constantly at each other, you get kind of numb, especially when it does not move the story forward.

#2 Being constantly reminded that "We have to find Jabba the Hutt's son. He's been kidnapped!" Alright already. We know. My 5 year old with the attention span of a , well, a 5 year old gets it already.

And #1, worst of all, Jabba the Hutt's flamboyant, apparently homosexual uncle Zero the Hutt. I kid you not. Zero is a purple Hutt with gold paint, flower tattoos, wears a gold headdress with feathers and speaks in the manner of Truman Capote with a Louisiana accent. A horrible stereotype. Again, I kid you not. Why not just get it over with and call him "Pizza the Hutt". At least that would have got a laugh out of the audience.

George Lucas has truly, finally lost his marbles.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wishing Well

Last Friday we took the kids, along with their cousins to Idlewild Park and Storybook Forest in Ligonier, PA. It's a park that caters to younger kids, but there also a bunch of rides to keep older kids happy. I haven't been there since I was about 5 or 6, but I remembered Story Book Forest more than the rest of the park.

Story Book Forest is a walking trail where you meet Mother Goose, Raggedy Ann, The Three Little Pigs and all the other characters you remember from childhood. I really wanted to take them here this year because Clay now likes SpongeBob more than Thomas and I was afraid that he'd think this was boring and too young for him. I was pleasantly surprised that he really enjoyed going through; although he didn't want to see Captain Candy on her pirate ship, even though she was passing out free lollipops. Drew on the other hand said, "Candy?! Let's Go!!!"

Near then end, there was a wishing well and I asked Clay if he wanted to make a wish. I gave him a penny and he ran over to the well. I said, "Close your eyes and make a wish and throw the penny in." He closed his eyes tightly, whispered to himself, smiled and threw the penny. I asked, "Did you make a wish?"

"Yes, I wished that you'd be my daddy forever!"

I almost cried. Yes, buddy, you get your wish; and I get mine.