Funko Mania!

February 26, 2019 11:37am
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I just realized how many pre-orders I have right now for upcoming Funko Pops … this is getting kind of ridiculous!

movie thoughts … Avengers: Infinity War

June 25, 2018 5:44pm
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So just to quickly recap where we are with our Infinity Stones in the MCU…

Before Infinity War…

  • Space Stone – on Asgard
  • Mind Stone – with Vision on Earth
  • Reality Stone – with The Collector in Knowhere
  • Power Stone – with Nova Corps on Xandar
  • Time Stone – with Dr. Strange on Earth
  • Soul Stone – ???

After Infinity War…

  • Space Stone – with Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet (oops)
  • Mind Stone – with Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet (oops)
  • Reality Stone – with Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet (oops)
  • Power Stone – with Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet (oops)
  • Time Stone – with Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet (oops)
  • Soul Stone – with Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet (oops)

Holy wow – was this movie amazing!

Like everyone else, I’ve been waiting to see how this thing played out literally for years, and I almost didn’t get to see it in the theater until Sara and I finally made the decision that we were going to have to go see it separately if it was doing to happen. So it wasn’t ideal, but hey, most things aren’t when children are involved. 😉


There was a lot to love about how this gigantic, epic tale came together, and ultimately I think they did a really good job considering just how many stars from different branches of the MCU all had to be included. I think the way the groups were divided worked really well, with my least favorite being the Guardians and my absolute favorite being Cap and crew … their entrance in Wanda & Vision’s battle to defend the mind stone was my absolute favorite.

Though Thor’s return to Earth, bellowing, “Bring me Thanos!” with his shiny, new magic axe was pretty cool, too!

I also surprisingly loved how they painted Thanos himself as not just a villain, but a genuine soul … passionate, and dedicated, and scarred. And yet at some point you have to remind yourself that he wants to destroy half of all living creation, so you can’t go too soft on him. 😯

It’s amazing how the snap at the end still stung right to the bone, even though we all knew going into this thing that Thanos had to win before eventually losing, particularly with this being a two-part story.

Still, I’ll be curious if everyone ends up coming back after the 2nd installment or if there are still casualties along the way. I suppose that Loki is already one.

One thing that I really didn’t like was Hulk’s impotence through the entire movie. Maybe they felt that he’d had such an impact in Thor: Ragnarok, or maybe he makes a huge return in part two, but it just seemed sad and pathetic, and the jokes didn’t help as everyone else was kicking ass and Dr. Banner was stuck flailing on the sidelines.

It was also a little weird how the Dr. Strange crew seemed to undervalue their powers between their sling rings and even the lack of using the time stone itself. But maybe they were just too nerfed that it would’ve been impossible to move the story along if they had. *shrug*

There was no doubt it was a big movie, especially compared to the first Avengers where we had six heroes total and the helicarriers and those flying alien turtles were the biggest things around! It’s kind of weird to look back at just how great that movie was, and then look at Thanos’s masterpiece and just go, “Wow – now that’s a great movie!”

really, really hope that part 2 is able to deliver on what might very well be the finale for some of these characters that have spanned the last twenty movies of the MCU, but that said, I’m already very much looking forward to Capital Marvel next year … and not just because apparently we’re going to meet her in one month and then watch her save half of the universe the next!

Five stars, can’t wait to watch it again at home when it comes out on digital.

My favorite comment when I was walking out of the movie theater at one o’clock in the morning – “Fucking Thanos…”

Digital Calendar Fun!

May 3, 2018 6:13pm
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This is a project that I’ve been looking forward to working on for a long time! Thankfully by the time I finally got around to it, most of the messy stuff has been worked out by other people and throwing this together was actually pretty easy… 😉

Ever since I realized that my wife and I could share a calendar via Google, it seemed like a no-brainer to help keep me on the same page because I’m the one who can never keep track of doctor’s appointments and all of the random stuff that we’ve got going on for the family throughout the month. The thing is, Google Calendar is great when I’m on the go and just want to check something on my phone real quick, but when I’m at home, I still like the simplicity of a wall calendar hanging in the kitchen or my office to be able to see at a glance if we’ve got anything going on that week.

The solution is actually pretty simple:

  • one old computer display (I picked this 22″ Dell up at a used monitor sale for $10)
  • one Raspberry Pi (I’m using the zero model because barely any CPU is needed here)
  • one free account on

What’s cool is when I originally thought about doing this, I figured I’d have to create a custom page and embed the calendar from Google in it, and then host that locally on the Pi along with any photos that I wanted to incorporate into some sort of slideshow, but instead the DAKboard folks have done all of that heavy lifting for me by creating a web service that pulls in calendar info using iCal, as well as weather data, news via RSS feeds, even a to-do list from Todoist, plus background images from sites like Instagram and Flickr!

I literally fought with my Raspberry Pi for two days because I got a bad USB dongle in my order and couldn’t get it to recognize a keyboard/mouse, and then setup the calendar itself using DAKboard’s features in about 20 minutes.

The display is just a full screen Chromium browser pointed at the Private URL that DAKboard gives you.

I added one line of code to the Pi’s config.txt file to rotate the screen to better resemble a wall calendar.

Now pretty much all I have left is to modify the startup script to have it automatically load Chromium and go right to that URL, install a script to make the cursor disappear on inactive, and then figure out how to hang the thing on the wall!

(and luckily, DAKboard has a neat-o blog post that details pretty much all of this stuff!)

It’s kind of surprising how quickly this much came together once I actually started – I do have a wishlist, but it’s admittedly pretty small…

  • Incorporate a motion sensor that will put the screen to sleep once everyone goes to bed (no idea how to do this)
  • Incorporate some sort of controls to allow flipping between months (my wife insists that this is vital to completely replace our paper calendar)
  • Create a separate photo account specifically for calendar photos (because it’s neat to link to Instagram, but I take pictures of dumb stuff sometimes that doesn’t belong on our family calendar!)
  • Support for more than one screen (I think DAKboard right now only supports one and I can see having different layouts for kitchen vs office, etc…)
  • Hide the power cords once this is mounted to the wall (it’s going to be a pain, but I basically just need to install a new outlet wherever the calendar will go)

I suppose I should point out that DAKboard’s business is actually in selling a retail version of this where everything is done for you, though they didn’t pay me to write this post … but I’d be happy to write a review if they want to send me a free unit to try out! 😉

Theirs is still a little pricey – $299 for a 24-inch display, whereas mine will likely still be less than $75 even after I pick up a wall mount for it.

Hopefully the price will come down, though, as displays continue to get cheaper. I see it as an alternative to the digital picture frame craze that we had a few years ago, but thankfully with a much larger display! With everything else so dynamic and connected around us, it seems weird to still be penciling in appointments on a piece of paper hanging on the wall, and at least this is still cheaper than hanging a full-fledged iPad to fulfill that coveted touch capability. 😀

If I was buying a monitor specifically for this, I’d aim for a slightly newer one with built-in USB (to eliminate a power cable for the Pi) and HDMI (to avoid an extra adapter from DVI to HDMI to micro HDMI), but you really don’t need much … I’m pretty sure you can still get displays like that in the neighborhood of $100.

I’ll be sure to post something else if/when I figure out all of that trickier stuff, but for now I’m pretty satisfied!

The Art of the Brick … in pictures

September 5, 2017 12:45am
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Although I’m not really much of an art person – at least the kind to spend an afternoon trying to guess what mood an artist was in while he was painting something 100 years ago, anyways.

But I do love Legos, and so when I learned that The Art of the Brick was going to be making a stop in Tampa this summer, I knew that we had to check it out. I’ve been a fan of Nathan Sawaya for a while now, so there was the added bonus of getting to tour the work of a famed Lego artist in addition to simply checking out the unique art form that nobody else has ever really worked with before!

Now admittedly I noticed right away that the exhibit was a bit different than walking around all of the larger than life models found around Legoland Florida and Disney Springs – it did feel a bit more academic, even though some of the more familiar painting recreations like The Starry Night, Scream, the Mona Lisa, and even the American Gothic sculpture made me feel a bit more cultured. 😉

I think what was most impressive is just considering that throughout the entire exhibit, each and every last one of the pieces was created by one guy … compared to the giant models around Legoland that are very impressive, yet are the works of entire teams of builders between computer modelers and fabricators and builders actually putting the bricks into place. And I think that helped me to bridge that gap between art and model, in a way, because my own art (writing) has very much always been a singular exercise as opposed to writing with other people.

It’s neat to walk around this huge exhibit and see some of the ideas inside the head of another creative person brought to life.

Above all, I think by far my favorite piece in the exhibit, though, was the model of the exhibit itself … particularly once I realized just how meta it got when the model itself was found within the model of the exhibit! That delighted me to no end – to first track my way through the exhibit from the front door to where I was standing, only to realize that within that the entire exhibit had been replicated again. So cool! 😀

I also really appreciated the interactive section at the end where kids could finally touch the bricks and play on their own … because if the other kids in the exhibit were anything like my own, they were more than due for a reward by the time they got to the end! Plus, it was just a nice way to end the presentation by bringing the art down to a relatable level for children because that’s the age when the seeds for any good, lifelong passion find their roots.

As a final thought, before writing this post today I did a little digging to see where The Art of the Brick would be going next because this was its last weekend in Tampa, I was intrigued to find that there are actually multiple shows currently touring the globe, meaning that the show I saw this weekend may not be the same other people will see – which is kind of neat and makes me wonder what pieces the other shows feature, too!

This one, in particular, over in the UK looks especially neat because it’s focused primarily on DC Superheroes – and though I’ve always been more of a Marvel guy myself, some of these models even beyond the giant Batmobile look like they’d be very cool to check out.

All in all it was a great exhibit, and I’ll be damned if we didn’t end up venturing over to the Lego Store to buy some new sets for ourselves after we were done, too! 😉

Finding Inspiration in the Stars

November 15, 2016 3:40pm
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It started out with just a random suggested video to watch during lunch – this one was about Commander Chris Hadfield returning to Earth after living on the International Space Station, talking about his reacclimation and all of the great creative things that he did to help “sell space” to a curious public during his stay…

From there I was pointed to this related video about fellow astronaut/cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko from Russia, who most recently spent a full year on the ISS to study the effects of space on the body with the thought of travel to Mars in our not-so-distant future…

…and I think what I loved about watching both of these videos back to back is that they’re really a great reminder of how space exploration brings us together, from listening to the passion that both of these men share in talking about their work as well as the things that they each missed back on Earth while they were away.

Even something as simple as the need for subtitles were a positive reminder because in a way they’re proof that despite Kornienko clearly speaking Russian throughout the interview, that passion and humanity still shines through that he’s talking about returning to Earth and its natural features that he loves.

There’s also a couple of scenes of all the astronauts together on the ISS and they’re always smiling and waving and working together towards a common goal. It just seems like if they can come together for the greater cause of science to transcend boundaries up there, we should be able to figure it out back down here on Earth, too. 😉

movie thoughts … The Martian

January 3, 2016 1:06pm
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martianBest movie I’ve watched so far this year – hands down!

Ok, in all seriousness, it’s probably the best movie from last year that I’ve watched, too.

In fact, I’ve had this thing sitting here for a couple of weeks but we never felt like we were really in the mood for it I think because we thought it was more of a serious movie like Interstellar (which sucked), but as it turns out, The Martian was very much the opposite of Interstellar because it was fun, it featured science that actually sounded like it made sense, and Matt Damon didn’t end up being kind of a dick hole at the end, either! 😛

I mean, it’s no secret that Matt Damon is who really sold this movie because he’s the one who was on screen 80% of the time and his delivery was spot-on – they really did a good job of making a character with the desperation to live who never gave up. It’s why his monologue to close the movie out sent shivers down your spine – because you literally just watched this guy live every word he was preaching to the next class of astronauts going to Mars…

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

I especially loved the humor that he interjected into what otherwise could’ve been a pretty depressing tale of being stranded 140 million miles from home. “The greatest botanist on this planet” … “space pirate” … “I’d get to fly around like Iron Man” – he just had some fantastic dialog that helped really turn an otherwise dreary situation into something much more anxiously motivated because just as I was curious to see what he’d do next, I was equally terrified each time something would go wrong because really, how many things can go wrong while you’re stranded on another planet?!

Turns out a lot of things can go wrong, but in the face of disaster you just need to keep going.

It was a sweet movie and I can see myself watching bits and pieces of this one a bunch in the future. $200 billion to rescue Matt Damon from Mars? I think we got ourselves bargain this time!

I think this is my all-time favorite story arc from the Lord of the Rings movies – following Aragorn’s acceptance of his lineage to eventually rise to become the new King of Gondor. I love the music, love the dialog between him and Arwen, her and her father, and finally Elrond and Aragorn as he brings hope to men with the famed sword itself….

And I have no idea how I never watched this video before, but here’s a sweet look at a smithy actually making the sword that was broken! This would be so cool to have up on the wall … at least once we get past the toddler years and I don’t have to worry about a kid stabbing his brother or sister with it, mind you. 😀

From the latest Plex newsletter…

October 29, 2015 4:53pm
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I thought this was pretty cool the way this was handled!

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 4.48.34 PM

I wish I could do the same to get my hands on the @justlaugh handle – it’s currently owned by either a teenage girl from Chile or a spammer posing as one. Either way, they haven’t posted in 3 years. I tried reaching out via the Facebook profile that’s liked to Twitter, but never got a response. Oh well.

Silly Monster Jammies

October 7, 2015 12:30am
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I’ve got to say, I see more and more of the very same silly sense of humor that I had when I was little in my son every day.

Tonight he was so well behaved while I had to be on a late night conference call in the other room, but when it was time to get him into his pajamas it was like he had flipped the switch over to full blown wacky! The jammies you see him in above are admittedly getting a little small for him, so I had a bit of trouble getting his feet into them to get him started. The first foot wasn’t too bad, but each time that I would try to get the other foot into place, he’d start wiggling and playfully poking at one foot with the other…

…which in these particular pajamas looked like a tiny, blue little monster was trying to get me…


Christopher is very much at this stage right now where he plays off of your emotions, so if you’re laughing, he’s laughing, and if he realizes that he’s the reason why you’re laughing … well, much like I know my pre-school teachers had to endure both years that they tried to temper my immature shenanigans, good luck getting him to stop once he really gets going!

It probably took me a solid five minutes to get the rest of those pajamas on – with several breaks included – because he just had me cracking up the entire time I was fighting with him, which honestly just made him act silly all the more. And it was kind of fantastic to see the little comedian playing off of my own amusement, even though he probably didn’t know exactly what it was that was making his Dad laugh his head off! 

He just kept doing it anyways … because that’s what you do when you’re making people laugh.


movie thoughts … John Wick

August 23, 2015 11:06pm
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johnwickI actually first watched this a couple of months ago, but recently I’ve gotten sucked into bits and pieces of it a few different times and I realized that I’d never written about it the first time, so here we are!

I think I enjoy this movie because John Wick is a complete and total badass.

Nobody fucks with John Wick, and yet the son of a crime lord ignorantly fucks with John Wick anyways, and thus we get to watch John Wick enact his revenge by killing pretty much anyone who crosses his path.

I loved Keanu Reeves in this role – the way he delivers is flawless, both in terms of badass-ed-ness as well as the heavy clout that anyone who really knows who John Wick is continues to honor even as he’s on the warpath. Some of my favorite exchanges are with the people from his past whom he comes back into contact with through this new ordeal…

  • Jimmy, the all-too-familiar police officer sent to respond to John’s “noise complaint”
  • Francis, the VIP doorman at the Red Circle who John courteously pardons
  • The Manager at the Continental, who professes that no laundry service is good enough to clean John’s blood-soaked shirt after his assault on the Red Circle

The whole build up of The John Wick Legend – mostly by Viggo himself, who’s arguably the second-most feared man in the city – is damn near perfectly executed in such a select few lines of dialog. It’s clear that this is the kind of guy you don’t underestimate – no matter who you are, and if you do, you’re as good as dead.

“John wasn’t exactly the Boogey Man … he was the one you sent to kill the fucking Boogey Man.”

“You will do nothing because you can do nothing.”

“They know you’re coming…”

(John himself) “Of course, but it won’t matter.”

What can I say – I loved Keanu Reeves in this movie! I’ve always been a huge fan of his, from The Matrix to Speed to even The Devil’s Advocate … the man plays a great lead and an even better action star.

And fun fact – at one point Keanu was actually in a band! They called themselves Dogstar and I remember going to see them play at some casino in Michigan back in my early 20s. I have no recollection whatsoever whether they were any good – Keanu played bass guitar, mind you – but it was really cool just to see him up on stage in person. 🙂

This was a sweet action movie, and apparently they’re now talking about making a second. Interesting, though admittedly part of the mystique of this one was knowing just enough about John Wick’s past to be absolutely terrified of him. A sequel could go either way…

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