Why I Support Wear Star Wars/Share Star Wars Day

19 Dec IMG_1107

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That Christmas was one of the best Christmases ever. I was surrounded by a plethora of Star Wars toys. Santa knew what I wanted and was extremely generous that year. I was probably eight? Maybe nine? Not sure, but I still remember the absolute joy that came with tearing open the wrappings and finding a treasure trove of vehicles, space stations, creatures, and action figures.

I know I talk about Star Wars a lot. Probably way too much, but it had a profound impact on my childhood and continuing on into my adult years. It’s even awesome to see how, for a number of my friends, when they see something Star Wars-y, I’m the first person they think of. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ll have five different people post the same awesome meme or link or video to my walk because they knew I’d dig it.

Even recently, I had two experiences that warmed my heart to the point of tears. The first was on my birthday. My friend Rose said she had a special surprise that she’d found back in July, but she’d been holding onto it for my birthday. It was this classic Darth Vader figure case. It can hold a couple dozen action figures and their accessories. As soon as I opened the package, I started bawling. And not like a few tears welling in the corners of my eyes. Full on ugly heave crying.

See that look of unadulterated bliss? Day made.

See that look of unadulterated bliss? Day made.

Unbeknownst to Rose, I had the Vader case as a child, but in an early-twenties moment of desperation, I sold the majority of my Star Wars collection to pay rent. While paying rent was a smart choice, I always, ALWAYS regretted selling off my toys. A few years ago, I started rebuilding my collection, and it’s now housed in my shrine: an antique curio cabinet I inherited from my great grandmother. While I had been working on the collection, I was still looking for some of my favorite pieces from childhood, in particular my Vader case and my AT-AT. So when Rose gave me Vader, complete with designation stickers still in tact, it was like being reunited with an old friend.

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Now to use the stickers as a guide for which figures I need to replace.

 

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and another friend brings me another gift. Jeremy and his wife were making some room for their own collection and had a spare AT-AT that was taking up prime real estate on their shelf. So, after seeing my Facebook post about the Vader case, they decided to gift it to me. Again, I cried. Not the overwhelming tears of the previous week, but still enough to need to compose myself. One of my other friends took the opportunity while it was unguarded to take a selfie with him. Through her suggestion, I’ve decided to name him Squishy.

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I had to keep an eye on this one. But she did come up with his name, so I’ll cut her some slack.

 

So what does all of this have to do with Wear Star Wars/Share Star Wars Day? It’s a story to show that for some little girl, receiving a Star Wars toy for Christmas would make them ridiculously happy. And not just now, but potentially 30-40 years down the road, as they grow nostalgic for their favorite childhood memories.

Wear/Share Star Wars Day was borne out of the experience of one little girl. She loved Star Wars and carried a special Thermos to school everyday. Until she started getting teased and told that she couldn’t like Star Wars or play with Star Wars toys because “that’s for boys.”

No, it most assuredly is not. I wouldn’t have been brought to tears twice in two weeks if it was.

The point is, toys shouldn’t be about gender. They should bring joy to the child who is playing with it, regardless of their body parts. Whether it’s the girl who likes Star Wars and Pokemon, or the boy who likes My Little Pony and wants an Easy Bake Oven, we should be encouraging their exploration. And I’m not saying it’s not okay for girls to like princesses or boys to dig trucks. I’m just saying that they shouldn’t be restricted in their choices.

So today, in an act of solidarity, wear your favorite Star Wars shirt. For me, it’s hard to choose because I have like 20 of them (not even exaggerating). Then go buy a Star Wars toy to put in the box for Toys for Tots or any toy donation site. Make sure to stick a note on the toy indicating that you want it to go to a girl, because otherwise by default they will gender select boy.

Make some little girl’s dream come true this holiday. My hope is that at least one girl unwraps her present and is as excited to receive a Star Wars toy as I was. And let’s be honest; still am.

Dollar Daze – Featuring Ru the Wonder Dog

16 Dec

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I’ve featured Ru, our crazy rock-herding Australian Shepherd/Doberman mix, in previous posts. I’ve even used her as a guinea pig for other Dollar Daze features. This particular post will serve two purposes, because we’ll try out a Dollar Tree item while giving you an update on Ru.

Last summer we noticed that when Ru was really active, she’d start limping on her back leg. When she went in for her yearly shots and check-up, I asked the vet and she said that it was possible Ru either had arthritis or an ACL tear. She gave us some meds and told us to keep an eye on it and check back in a couple months. We continued to take Ru camping, because she lived for camping, but it was hard to try and hold her back activity wise.

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Our summer home away from home. I didn’t realize how much weight Ru has lost until I saw this pic. Poor baby.


The dog herds rocks, for crying out loud! She’s all about doing her thing.

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Andrea and Ru enjoying the campfire after a nice swim.

 

By the time school started back up it was getting worse, so the vet recommended xrays to rule out the ACL tear. If it was an ACL, it would potentially mean surgery, which at her advanced age could be dangerous, but we needed to know how to proceed.

 

I wish I could say it was a torn ACL.

 

Unfortunately, our sweet spastic old dog has osteosarcoma. She has a malignant tumor growing out of her ankle joint on one of her back legs, which the vet explained was the reason she would not (and probably never will again) put any weight on that foot.

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This is her current modus operandi. It’s kind of cute and heartbreaking to have a three-legged dog. Especially when she tries to chase squirrels on the ice.

 

The way the tumor is in the leg, it is inoperable. The doc said that normally amputation is an option, but they couldn’t guarantee that the cancer hadn’t already metastasized elsewhere making it a needless surgery. And given her age it was too dangerous and potentially hard for her to adjust. She’s already 13, and for her breed 9 is getting up there. The best option was to give her meds to ease the pain and have a plan if need be to help her cross the rainbow bridge.

 

The first couple weeks were hard, and truthfully we didn’t think she’d make it. She has up days and down days, and the tumor has obviously gotten bigger because her whole foot is swollen now. She whines when it’s too painful and we give her loves and meds. Some days it’s all she can do to move. Other days, she’s ambitious enough to go for a walk around the block. It takes about 45 minutes (as opposed to her usual 10) but she still wants to go and smell and be part of the bigger world. Some adjustments have been made. Andrea has temporarily set up a bedroll in the living room so Ru doesn’t get lonely at night. She can no longer climb the stairs, so sleeping with the family is only possible if we come to her.

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Andrea’s temporary bed. Had I known it would be four months, I’m not sure I would have agreed to it.

 

She still eats well, which is shocking to me, and she and cat play very nicely together. We’re frankly surprised she’s lasted as long as she has. Toward the middle of September, we were praying for an early snowfall so she could play in it one last time (because she LOVES the snow); now, we may have her join us for a final Christmas. Jason was even saying the other day that the way she’s going, she may make it far enough into spring to spend a final day up at the campsite. We’ll see. Right now, we’re just happy for whatever time we get.

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They always were friends, but now my girls hang much more than they ever did. I’m a little worried about how Hazel will react when the time comes.

 

Which brings us to today’s Dollar Daze, because I thought it’d be fun to do one last treat for her.

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Look at that face! She’s ready for treats.

 

Dollar Tree had two options, so I thought we’d try both. First up: People Crackers.

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Which, despite the product description are not people flavored.

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I guess *technically* I don’t know that they AREN’T people flavored…

 

They do have a lovely smokey bacon scent, so we’ll see if she likes them.

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Yes, that is her tongue.

 

So far so good. Next up, Natural Value Sweet Potato and Chicken Biscuit.

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Looking at the treat, I had a feeling this would be the more desirable of the two. The chicken was like a jerky wrapped around the biscuit. Ru was definitely a fan of these.

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We have a winner!

 

as was the cat.

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I did decide to try and see if I could get the dog to pick one over the other. Which did she really prefer? Because in all honesty, she was snarfing both of them fairly quickly. So I placed both treats on my knee and waited.

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The universal symbol for “stay”

 

The chicken sweet potato won.

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She grabbed it so fast she’s just a blur

 

The fact that she left a treat on my leg at all was rather shocking. Not that she didn’t eventually eat it as well, but the chicken biscuit was resoundingly favored.

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She’s actually turned her face away from a free treat because she’s trying to get the other one away from the cat. For reals.

 

Ru has been greatly spoiled in the past four months since she received her diagnosis. Where before we were not big on giving her table scraps (with the exception of popcorn- the dog does love her popcorn) now it’s not unusual for someone to pick up an extra burger at Mickey D’s for the dog to have. Based on the results of this experiment, I will definitely be picking up some more Natural Value biscuits for stuffing her stocking next week. Maybe a couple, since she and the cat downed them so quickly. Dollar Tree gets an A+ for the Natural Value  treats, and a B for People Crackers. She liked them both, but I’m docking points off the People Crackers for false advertising. I mean, if you’re going to advertise that they’re the people dogs love to eat, they should at the very least be Soylent Green flavored.

50 by 50 #1- Get My Diving Certification

11 Dec

If I really think about this, it probably stems back to childhood fantasies of being an ichthyologist. I have been fascinated with fish from an early age, and dreamed of exploring the depths of the ocean floor. I still dream of what’s down there, and am somewhat disappointed that we don’t know more about the world beneath us. Match that passion for the ocean and its creatures to an experiential opportunity, and we come up with one of my list items.

Here in Minnesota we have a wonderful, magical place called the Mall of America. Or, as some like to call it, the Sprawl of America. It is a bastion of commercialism and consumerism, with just about every spending opportunity imaginable. Want an American Girl doll? Got it. Want to partake in an oxygen bar? Yup. Williams Sonoma? Apple? Hot Topic? Macy’s? All of the above. Dude, they even have a DOLLAR TREE (!) at MOA. If you’re not interested in maxing out the credit cards, there are plenty of other things to do. Like spend an afternoon riding rides at the amusement park. Taking in a movie. Even just the people watching is fascinating. One of my favorite features of MOA, however, is the aquarium.

It used to be called Underwater Adventures, so admittedly that’s what I still call it. I think it’s something like Sea Life? We have a similar issue with the amusement park here. Technically, it’s Nickelodeon Universe, but there are still hold outs who call it Camp Snoopy, even though it’s been probably a decade since they owned the property. So a few years back I took Andrea to Underwater Adventures. On Black Friday, it should be noted. Not intentionally, I would like to point out. She had the day off of work, I had the day off of school (wait, reverse those…) and I thought it’d be fun to take the day and do something fun. I didn’t even think to consider that I was stepping foot into the shopping mall to end all shopping malls on the biggest shopping day of the year. Thankfully, since we spent all day at the aquarium I didn’t deal with the crazy crowds like I thought I would, other than trying to find parking. That was enough human interaction for one day, thankyouverymuch.

While we were at Underwater Adventures, I saw something that caught my eye. They were listing special activities they had available, like behind the scenes tours and such, and one of the items listed was “Swim with the Sharks!” Upon closer inspection, if you had your diving certificate, equipment, and a spare $300, you could dive in both of their ginormous fish tanks and hang out with sharks, rays, and other assorted aquatic creatures. This was about seven years ago, so I thought it would be a great goal to set to complete before my 40th birthday. That Christmas, Jason gave me a gift certificate to a diving shop and I did manage to get my flippers, snorkel, and mask. Unfortunately, I never had the time or the cash to take the full-on diving class to get my certification, but it was a start.

The best part is that I can use the equipment I do have to explore the many thousands of lakes we have here. We have 10,000, you know. Plus a few rivers. That’s a lot of water to snorkel. I’ve been using the gear to snorkel during the summer when we’re up at the campground, and I love exploring the weeds and checking out the fish. For some reason, baby bass love (LOVE) the bright yellow color of my flippers and will come right up to me to check them out. And totally unrelated (but kinda related in my little ADHD addled brain), here’s a fun fishing video for you to enjoy.

I figure five years should get me down there. Even though the company has changed hands, they still have the shark diving option available. They even have a cheaper snorkeling opportunity that I might go ahead and partake in. I won’t officially count it as diving unless I hit the big 5-0 without getting my certificate, but might as well make use of the equipment I have. It’ll still be cool, even if I’m not all the way underwater.

So question, my Zillas. Do you want me to continue explaining the 50 by 50 in numerical order, or do you want me to jump around randomly? Are there specific entries you’re curious about and don’t want to wait x number of weeks to find out why I want to pursue an adventure? Let me know in the comments below, or leave a note on my Facebook page. I’m open to all options, and truthfully a space to your love, so let me know what you want/think.

Dollar Daze – Scienc-y Stuff!

9 Dec

dollar daze logo

Since it’s been a while (and since I saw two different versions of this kit) I figured I’d give ya a two-fer and go all Bill Nye on yo asses and do some science. The latest trip to Dollar Tree had not one but two different types of crystal growing kits.

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These are sort of like the ones I remember from childhood, but on a smaller scale. Growing up in the 70s, we had psychedelic growing kits that required using a fish tank and copious amounts of some chemical compound to make them work. I think that was the image I had in mind when I experimented with these, which is probably not fair because the end result for these kits was nowhere near as amazeballs as those toxic mixtures.

I started with the one that seemed most likely to actually work: the appropriately named Crystal Growing Kit. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

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Here’s where I admit I was a little confused by the instructions. They told me to fill the container 3/4 of the way with cold water, then measure said water in another container, then throw that water away and refill the measuring tool with hot water. I asked Jason why I wouldn’t just start off putting hot water in the container to begin with, and he said it actually made sense and had something to do with thermodynamics and losing heat and if that was what was needed to activate the crystals, you would want to make sure it was both timely and accurate. Being the Laziest Person Alive© I was still pretty sure that was terribly inefficient, but in the interest of science, y’all, I went ahead and did the extra steps. But I felt put upon the entire time.

After measuring and throwing away and heating up and measuring again, then I had to add the crystal mixture to the hot water and stir “until dissolved” which, let me just say, if the thermodynamics thing is legit they need to have crystals that dissolve quicker. image

Because even after stirring for a significant amount of time and pouring the lava like liquid into the plastic container

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I still had chunks of crystal in the bottom of my measuring cup.

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Looks like purple Kool-Aid and sugar. Pretty sure I don’t want to test it to see if it tastes like it.

Once the mixture was in the plastic tray, we added the rocks and put the remaining crystals on top of said rocks. Like a wet, sandy zen garden. Sort of. But not really.

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That looks…appetizing…

Fingers crossed and hope for the best, I guess.

Next up, the crystal tree. I had less hope for this one because, seriously, cardboard? At least the fluid was pre-mixed, so that was a little easier. Please note that I said a little. By which I mean “not at all.”

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What do I do here?

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Fitting the pieces together and into the base wasn’t so bad. I wasn’t quite sure what was meant by separating the branches, so I bent them at alternate angles. I will say, the instructions on these left a bit to be desired.

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Despite my reservations, the “crystals” on this one actually started popping out within an hour or two of adding the fluid to the tray. It should be noted that despite all the warnings about the dangers of the chemical compound, I still managed to spill it on both the table AND MY PHONE in the course of adding it to the tray.

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Toxic chemicals everywhere. Apparently I’m too clumsy to be a chemist.

Thank goodness I have one of those Otterboxes (or as my friend Linda lovingly calls it, “a Fisher Price iPhone case”) otherwise I’m sure my week would be ruined.

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Triple A (my Awesome Assistant Andrea©) offered that maybe by adding food coloring to the fluid, we could change or enhance the colors of the crystals, kind of like coloring a carnation. So we gave that a try.

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It wasn’t successful, although it seemed like a good idea at the time. But it did make the base look pretty, so there’s that.

By the next morning, the tree was looking amazing!

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Pretty!

The rock crystals? Not so much.

 

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…not pretty. (insert sad panda face here)

I’ll give it a couple of days, but pretty sure this isn’t going to look anything like the picture on the box. Especially since right now it just looks like grainy poop.

At this point, I’ll give the tree a B, the crystals a C-. The tree could have gotten an A, because in a sense it did work, but here’s the thing… they aren’t really crystals. When I think crystals, I thinks hard things. The stuff on the tree is more like flocking on a Christmas tree. It’s soft and disintegrates easily.

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I touched it to turn it for a better picture, and the flocking started to fall off. The piece back there by the candle bears a striking resemblance to a piece of cauliflower.

My other complaint is that it doesn’t ever explain the science behind how this works. I know that’s expecting a lot for  a $1 kit, but the box publicizes it as “Science for Kids” so I expected a little more about why they grow and what happens between the tree and the chemical to make the reaction to get all fluffy and stuff. But the fluffy bit in and of itself kinda bugs me, so maybe it’s best it doesn’t do any explaining.

The Crystal Growing Kit was even more of a let down. The instructions were confusing and the results less than stellar. I even waited to post this until today hoping the extra time would allow the crystals to grow more. Unfortunately, the tray still looks like it contains purple coffee grounds

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Comparing the results to the picture on the package doesn’t help. False advertising! Of course, if I was honestly expecting amethyst-type crystals from a $1 children’s “science” kit, perhaps my expectations are a wee bit too high.

 

There you have it, my Zillas. Not the best Dollar Daze we’ve had, but it was sorta fun for about half an hour. Which really, if you think about it, is pretty cheap entertainment. I definitely wouldn’t use these for your kids’ science projects, but it’d be a good rainy day/snowmaggedon activity.

 

50 by 50

4 Dec

So…it’s been seven months. But you’re still here! I was worried that I’d have to start all over building an audience again, but my stats say y’all still visit in reasonable numbers, and I love you for that. Sorry I’ve left you hanging.

In the past two weeks I’ve had no less than six people ask me when I was going to post again. The timing is right- I had been working two jobs which, while awesome, took a toll on my creativity and energy. One is now done so I have more open time in the evenings again. Today starts the beginning of another year round the sun for me, so I figured I’d take this time to set my own resolutions. Why wait for New Year’s Day? As I was thinking on the start of my 45th year, I realized that there are a lot of things I keep wanting to do but never get around to. So this is kind of like a bucket list, but on a shorter time frame. My great-grandma lived to be 90, so following that timeline I’m officially middle aged. Time to get shit done, yo!

I’ve spent the last few days ruminating, and I’ve landed on 50 things I want to do before I hit 50. Some are realistic. Some are very easy to accomplish I just have to do them. And some are pipe dreams, but I wanted to put them out to the universe in the hopes that the act of writing it down spurs me to at least make an effort to do something about it. Added bonus, it will help give me fodder for blog posts! I am going to hop back on this horse (thanks to all y’alls encouragement) and try to commit to posting three times a week. Mondays I’ll bring back Dollar Daze, because that’s one thing you Zillas have been clamoring for, and I am happy to oblige. Thursdays I’ll expand on the items on this list and explain either what I mean by them or why I want to do them. Added bonus when I actually do them, because I’ll post those stories as well. With 50 items, I’ve got at minimum a year’s worth of explaining (and doing!) to do. And finally, I’ll use Saturdays to post my random bits of weirdness. Whether it’s nostalgic childhood stories or sharing current life, you know I’ll find something to write about. So stay tuned, my Zillas. Nagzilla is back! Kinda like Backstreet’s Back (alright!), but not really.

So without further ado, here’s my ambitious 50 By 50 list. Please note they are not in any order, other than when the idea popped into my head. Feel free to join along. Or if you have ideas of other things I should try and do in the next five years, feel free to leave them in the comments. As long as it’s not skydiving. Or bungee jumping. Or hot air balloons. Truthfully, anything involving heights and a risk of plunging to my death is not something I have any desire to do at any point in my lifetime.

50 By 50

  1. Get my diving certification
  2. Put two more stamps in my passport
  3. Get under 200 pounds
  4. Meet George Lucas
  5. Finish writing my book
  6. Learn how to play bagpipes
  7. Get Vicalyn for our yard
  8. Make an Aquaman cosplay
  9. Run a 5K
  10. See the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017
  11. Take a ballroom dance class
  12. Swim with dolphins
  13. Ride in a gondola
  14. Learn how to tie a bowtie
  15. Go to DisneyWorld
  16. Get another tattoo
  17. Have a Star Wars Day party
  18. Try indoor rock climbing
  19. Go to ComicCon
  20. Try a Jucy Lucy at both Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club and decide which is better
  21. Redecorate my blog pages
  22. Check out the Fringe Festival
  23. Try cross-country skiing
  24. Make a Weeping Angel cosplay
  25. Watch at least the top 10 of AFI’s best movie list
  26. Go to Hawaii
  27. Learn how to stand-up paddleboard
  28. Drive Route 66
  29. Play bingo at a casino
  30. Ride a train
  31. See a Cubs game at Wrigley Field
  32. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail
  33. Visit New York City
  34. Redecorate our bedroom
  35. Read ten books from this list
  36. Go river rafting
  37. Make a souffle
  38. Swim in an ocean
  39. Do a massive purge of crap from my house
  40. Make a Cloud City Leia cosplay
  41. Take a random road trip
  42. Hike a section of the Paul Bunyan trail
  43. Redecorate the bathroom
  44. Blog regularly for an entire year
  45. Join a flashmob
  46. Learn to play one complete song on the piano
  47. Visit Soudan Mine State Park
  48. Make a steampunk Fluttershy cosplay
  49. Establish a regular game night
  50. Learn to read Tarot cards

Game on, Zillas! Let’s do this!

Con Season Starts and Bragging Rights

22 May

Another opening, another show  Tomorrow starts con season, and Andrea is furiously working to finish her latest cosplay. This is another one that she is constructing from scratch, using the new sewing machine she received from Santa for Christmas. She’s pretty close to being done. This time around, she’s dressing as Mami Tamoe from Madoka Magica.

Mami Tamoe- her current character inspiration

Mami Tamoe- her current character inspiration

mami dress start

Here’s where she was on Monday…

 

...and the current incarnation.

…and the current incarnation.

All she has left really are the arm warmers, socks, and boots. I think the boots will present the greatest challenge, although after some discussions last night we may use a pair of regular shoes and try to whip together some spats to make up the difference. She won’t have the time or materials to make the gun this time around, but personally I think that’s okay because carrying a prop around all day is (in my view) a huge hassle. Especially since mom’s the one that usually gets stuck carrying it.

She is continuing her tradition of creating artwork for the voice actors to sign. There are several folks at this one who do a number of her favorite characters, so she’s been hard at work (in addition to the dress!) drawing portraits of the characters for the actors to sign.
HaruhiBlairKaoruMasako Hara

This is the same con we went to last summer, although I’m a little annoyed at their date change. Last year, this same con was at the end of June. This year, they’ve bumped it up to Memorial Day weekend. While I’m grateful for the Monday holiday to recover from the weekend’s adventures (I’m getting too old for this shit) I’m frustrated that they scheduled it at a time when kids are either graduating or getting ready for finals. The thing starts at noon tomorrow, and I keep debating back and forth about if and how much school I’ll allow Andrea to miss for this. If it weren’t so close to finals it wouldn’t be a big deal, but she only has a week and a half of school left, so missing part of the day could be troublesome. Not to mention that we’re missing not one but two graduations because of this. Unfortunately we registered for the event before we received the invites, and since the registration fee is nonrefundable, Jason will represent at the grad events while we get our money’s worth. Hopefully next year they move it back to actual summer months when scheduling isn’t as big of an issue. As always, I’ll keep you updated on the con adventures next week.

Speaking of shows… So during my prolonged absence, we had another first for our baby- first musical! She’s had bit parts in plays before, but this was her first time auditioning for a musical. She managed to snag a pretty good supporting role. Not bad for a sophomore! Her high school did Legally Blonde, The Musical, which is pretty bold considering some of the things in the show. As Exhibit A (see what I did there?) I give you the show stopping number from the show, “Gay or European” (or, as the high school version had it listed, “There, Right There!”).

As one of my friends said, “Only in Minnesota could a high school get away with doing that show!” Andrea played Enid Hoops. She was very excited to play a lesbian. She had a couple of solo parts and did a great job.

Picture of rehearsal from the local rag.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Last week, she got to school one morning and one of the seniors in the show stopped her in the hall and said, “You received an honorable mention for your supporting role in the show!” Her response? “Um, okay?” Apparently (and seriously, I didn’t know anything about this until she got the award), the downtown theatre group in Minneapolis allows high schools to participate in the Spotlight Showcase. The schools submit their shows, and they give awards for performances. All of the students who receive these awards come together to do a production at the Orpheum Theatre. I asked Andrea if her teacher nominated her, and she said that adjudicators from the Hennepin Theatre Trust come out to the show and watch and make their nominations based on the performance s they see. It wasn’t until I was talking to another parent that I discovered this is actually kind of a big deal. We’ve got our tickets to see her performance and are gearing up for another week of rehearsals for her.

It’s moments like these when I stand in awe of my kid, because seriously, if she puts her mind to it and puts her heart into it, I feel like there’s nothing she can’t do. She’s going to go places; I’m just along for the ride.

You Didn’t Think I’d Let This Auspicious Occasion Pass Without a Post, Did You?

16 May

I know I have been remiss and absent as of late with regard to my posting, but my Zillas, the day is here. Today is

GODZILLA DAY!

Today’s the day! Today’s the day!

I’m so excited I can barely stand it. RAWR!

 

Wore my Godzilla shirt to work today to celebrate.

I figured today would be as appropriate a day as any to share why I love Godzilla so much, and why the -zilla moniker is more than just a fun name for me.

Of course I met Godzilla once in Tokyo...

Of course I met Godzilla once in Tokyo…

It, of course, stems from childhood. There was a melding of moments in my personal timeline, so I don’t know which influence came first. There were two main sources for my love of Godzilla. The Godzilla Power Hour, and Saturday afternoon matinees at the Lake Theatre.

The Godzilla Power Hour was a cartoon by Hanna Barbara that came on in the mid-70s. It featured Godzilla and a band of scientists. It also had Godzuki, Godzilla’s…I don’t remember what. Son? Brother? Cousin? Annoying orphaned mutant dinosaur that he picked up along the way? I don’t recall what the relationship was between Godzilla and Godzuki, but he annoyed the crap outta me. Much like Scrappy Doo. I’m seeing an “annoying little sidekick” theme running through Hanna Barbara’s 70s cartoons. The theme song was pretty awesome, and I can still sing it to this day.

It would be more epic without the Godzuki part, but I’m willing to give it a pass. I haven’t seen the show itself in years, so I don’t know if it’s held up or if it would just be stupid now, but at the time I was enthralled. Course I also loved Super Friends, and I have a fellow blogger who recaps those eps on a regular basis to remind us how cheesy the 70s were, so I’m kind of afraid to watch lest it wreck my precious memories. Kinda like Xanadu. I remember loving that movie when it came out. I tried watching it again a few months ago and about halfway through had two thoughts:

  • Oh my god, what the fuck am I watching?
  • Oh my god, this was Gene Kelly’s last movie. Tragic.

Anyhoo. So Godzilla was part of my Saturday morning routine. The cycle was completed on Saturday afternoons when I walked uptown to go spend the day at the movie theatre watching the matinees.

One of my childhood homes

They never showed the evening movie during the matinee, but Betty (the woman who ran the Lake Theatre) would get other age appropriate movies for us to watch. Occasionally there’d be a Disney movie or some other animated thing thrown in there, but the ones I remember most were Godzilla movies and big screen versions of “In Search Of” which was a show in the 70s that featured in depth examinations of mysteries and paranormal phenomenon. It starred Leonard Nimoy and highlighted all sorts of cool things, like the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, UFOs, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Anastasia. Just the ticket for getting a pre-adolescent mind percolating.

My favorites, though were the Godzilla movies. I don’t know what all we watched, although I know the original and the ones with King Kong and Mothra were viewed. Pretty sure that’s also where I saw Mechagodzilla, which was a robot version of Godzilla, although that also may have been on cable. I also remember a couple of times when I was there with a couple of the neighbor kids, and when the monsters were on the screen we’d try and throw Jujubes at them.

A local video rental place over by the U of M. Been waiting for an appropriate time to use this pic and this seems as good as any.

A local video rental place over by the U of M. Been waiting for an appropriate time to use this pic and this seems as good as any.

The Saturday matinees were ideal for me. I was a latch key kid, and everyone worked on Saturdays so I would spend them home by myself. Once Grandma knew I could be trusted to cross the highway, I hoofed it uptown every week after I got my allowance and spent the afternoon in capitalistic bliss, blowing my money as soon as I had it.

My hiking route every Saturday. It should be noted that at the time, Highway 18 there was a four lane highway. Completely appropriate for a nine year old to be crossing by herself.

My hiking route every Saturday. It should be noted that at the time, Highway 18 there was a four lane highway. Completely appropriate for a nine year old to be crossing by herself.

The movie was cheap entertainment that gave me something to do for a couple of hours. For $5.00 I paid for my admission, a small popcorn, and a small suicide. Afterwards, I’d head over to Ben Franklin and blow the rest of my money on Star Wars action figures or 45s or art supplies. It was a pretty awesome way to spend an afternoon when you’re 8-10 years old and unsupervised.

So in some ways, Godzilla was another one of my beloved childhood babysitters. While Godzilla didn’t have a cool silver Christmas tree or make macaroni and milk for me, like Billie did, he still gave me hours of memorable moments. I am so excited to see the new Godzilla, and hope that it lives up to the hype. It can’t possibly be as bad as that craptacular version they made a few years ago, but I’m hoping it will bring Godzilla back to his former glory.

You know I’ll be checking it out. If you happen to go see it this weekend, leave a note in the comments and let me know what you thought. Or share your personal Godzilla memory, if you have one. Let’s do this, Zillas! RAWR!

As an added bonus, I wanted to share this awesome Honest Trailer for the last fiasco of a Godzilla movie. This trailer hits it on the head.

 

Want a little more Godzilla fun? Check out this cool page I found while Googling Godzilla. If you get a chance, read his disclaimer. It’s hysterical!

Dollar Daze is Back! With Larry the Cable Guy! And Beer!

21 Mar

dollar daze logo

Not only has it been a while since I did a Dollar Daze post, it had been a while before I had even trekked to Dollar Tree in order to find products to test out for Dollar Daze. Subzero and laziness and all that. I’m starting to regret that because *SPOILER ALERTZ* I actually found a product that is pretty awesome.

I will admit I was not expecting much from Larry the Cable Guy. He’s okay, but not generally my style of humor. I was not really that into the whole Blue Collar Tour thing, mostly because I grew up in the sticks and saw plenty of bubba behavior that, frankly, I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to get away from. Not that there’s anything wrong with white trash culture. It’s just not my cuppa tea. So it was with some hesitation that I decided to try this:

This will end well

Now I like beer flavored things (beer battered anything, beer cheese soup, etc.) and I love bread, so I’m willing to give a try to a product that combines both these things. And apparently this is not the only product Mr. Cable Guy has in his repertoire (although I’m pretty sure he can’t even spell the word repertoire), because check out the list of products on the side of the box.

So many options for the food enthusiast

I took a picture of the Nutrition Facts, but I’m not exactly sure why. Pretty sure if you’re trying out Beer Bread by Larry the Cable Guy you’re not overly concerned about nutrition. That’s just a broad generalization, though.

Hopefully the directions are pretty simple.

Seems easy enough. Wonder if their legal department made them add the “You must be 21 to drink” disclaimer?

Superfriends, assemble! Oh, wait. Superingredients, assemble!

Bread pan? Check. Bread mix? Check. Butter? Check. Note that I picked a super classy beer to make this gastronomic masterpiece. Who doesn’t love a good Grain Belt Premium? Okay, okay. I’ll admit. We were out of PBR and Natty Light.

Step one, preheat oven. Yeah, you don’t need a pic of me doing that. Let’s move on to step two- preparing the mix. First we have to add the beer to the dry mix. Which means we have to open the bottle of beer.

Took me three tries of opening it with me teeth before I realized the cap just twisted off. Side note: I take the worst selfies ever.

I was going to be good and add the whole bottle to the mix, but then I noticed this:

Hey, he said I could have one tiny sip.

Don’t mind if I do!

So we mixed up the batter.

They said it was supposed to be a little lumpy.

And then pour in the pan and top with melted butter.

Mmmm. Doesn’t this look appetizing? (and yes, you should be reading that with a sarcastic overtone)

While it doesn’t look like much now, we’re still hoping for the best. It wasn’t until I went to put it in the oven that I realized the bread had to bake for almost an hour. Good thing I wasn’t planning on having dinner until 10:00 p.m.

So after waiting what seemed like an eternity, I finally pulled the loaf out of the oven.

Look at that golden beauty! The angels sang and wept.

It looked fantastic and smelled amazing. But the true test- how did it taste?

Om nom nom!

Well, since I did pretty much spoil it at the beginning, it was FANTASTIC! Seriously. Dense, a little sweet but with the mild bitterness from the beer. Absolutely delectable! We’ve decided that it would be great to have with chili. We had it with tortilla soup, which was also a good pairing. Seriously, this would make an amazing bread with just about any soup entry.

Bonus points if you can guess what we’re watching on the tv in the background.

So Dollar Tree wins again. A++ for this one. I will buy this again in a heartbeat. I may even be convinced to try some of Larry’s other products if I find them somewhere. Especially the fish batter. That will come in handy this summer up at the lake, I imagine.

Want a tasty bread to have with your dinner? Give it a try. For only a buck, it’s an awesome deal and makes a delicious, hearty bread that’s scrumptious. Tell ‘em Nagzilla sent ya!

Nagzilla Marie, Where the HELL Have You Been?!?

14 Mar

I know, I know. I should have written. Or called. Or something.

This is one of the great hazards of struggling with depression (an issue I’ve been pretty straight forward about): the seasonal aspect of the illness. Most of the people I know who have some type of chronic depression have certain times of year when it’s just harder to function. For me, it’s winter. Particularly the period between the holidays and daylight savings time, when the days are short and excessively dark and the weather is cold and you don’t want to venture outside. It’s normally a challenge for me to keep going during the January through March period, but this year was to the nth degree. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Minnesota has been spending the last three months in what was not-so-lovingly known as a Polar Vortex. Which meant it was not only cold, it was bone chilling cold. Dangerously cold. Like, we lost about a week of school due to temperatures and wind chills that were 30-40 degrees below zero.
hurts my face
Normally when my seasonal shit hits, I can turn on my Happy Lite®, pop some additional vitamin D, and things get tolerable. Not this year. Part of the problem is that I am cold all the freaking time anyway. Seriously, what good is an extra 100 pounds of fat if it doesn’t insulate you and keep you warm? If I’m this cold now, I’d hate to think what would happen if I were actually at my ideal weight. But when I’m cold, all I can do to get warm is curl up in blankets. Exercising and moving doesn’t help, because once I start sweating I just get colder. Showers and baths suck because then I’m wet, and wet = cold, so…
travel minnesota
Needless to say, the last couple of months I’ve spent most of my time huddled in a corner, wearing three layers of clothing, blankets wrapped around me and space heaters melting my face, just waiting for the arrival of something even somewhat resembling spring. And unfortunately, when I’m struggling for basic normal human functioning, the first thing to go is my creativity. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write about. Let me make that clear. I have a little notebook full of stories to share once the warm spring air thaws my frozen mojo. But the gumption, the motivation, the guiding spirits or muses that lead me to gather everything from my head and actually put it in a sharable format? Yeah, that’s pretty well gone. Or at least it had been. 

shit
What’s most interesting to me is that in the past, when my creativity took a vaca, I would absolutely panic. I was convinced that what was lost would never return, and I was stuck forever in a life of dismal day to day normalness. I’ve since learned (through years of good therapy, I will happily confess) that just like the seasons, creativity is also cyclical. While I’m in a dormant phase at the moment, I know that eventually things will thaw out and start to blossom and grow. It’s an insight that I find comforting, especially during seasons like this that feel as though they will never end. But it’s hope that keeps us going. Just as we hope and wait for the warmth of spring to come and trust that it will eventually return, we recognize that it happens on its own time and we need to be patient with the process. Creativity is the same way. But I now understand that it is not gone forever. It just needs time to rest and refuel, and when it’s ready it will bloom and grow along with everything else that waits patiently for the seasons to pass from one to the next.
spring not found

So bear with me. In contrast to the familiar trope, spring is coming. And when it does, Nagzilla will rise from the waters once again, ready to storm the city and destroy everything in her path.
Oversized-Snowman godzilla
Wait. That’s not right. Well, you get the idea anyway. Some analogies just get a little lost in translation.

Metrodome Memories

22 Jan

If you haven’t heard, our bubble has gone away.

It may not be news to anyone outside of Minnesota, but the last home game for the Vikings was the last time anything would take place in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

The build up to the event was a pretty big deal, and the local sports radio station was taking calls all week from listeners wanting to share their Metrodome memories. I am actually pretty neutral about the whole thing; I didn’t hate the Dome, like some people, but I’m not super sad it’s going away either. It served its function, and we have some great memories of going to football and baseball games there. But I’m not emotionally tied to it one way or the other. That said, I do have three specific memories that stand out.

Rollerdome
It’s probably pretty predictable that one of my memories would involve roller skating. The concourses on both the second and third floors of the dome have a smooth concrete surface. If memory serves, Mike Ditka is the first one that called it the Rollerdome, but they did open it up to skaters to come and get exercise during the winter. Last year we discovered this wonder and were able to go a few times. Andrea enjoyed it so much, she signed up to do the marathon event that they held in the spring.

Roxy getting her gear on before the race.

Technically, she participated in the half marathon since it was her first time out, but that’s still pretty impressive. Hell, I’ve only ever done a 5K, and even then I thought I was going to die! She completed the race in 45 minutes, placed 30th out of about 65 skaters, and received a cool t-shirt to boot! And bragging rights. Because, hello! Half marathon!

After the race was finished- too pooped to pop. Still super proud of her though!

Jason Loses His Wedding Ring
Usually when we went to Twins games, we ended up in the upper deck because that’s where the cheap seats were. One time we were at a game and we were seated in the first row right behind the railing. During a ninth inning rally, we were standing up to cheer. Jason had recently lost some weight and his ring was a little loose. Maybe more than a little, because while he was clapping, it flew off his hand, over the railing, and landed somewhere in the seats below. We tried to see where it landed, and after the game we tried to go down and find it, but it was pretty much a lost cause.

Jason’s Birthday Surprise
One of the cool things you could do at the dome was pay to have a special message posted on the black and white scoreboard. One year we were taking Jason to a game for his birthday, and I thought it would be fun to have the scoreboard lit up for him. I paid the $50 and kept it a surprise.

During said game, one of the pitchers walked one of our batters. In the past when we’d been at games, if the opponent walked a batter, the scoreboard would show a ghost and say “walks will haunt!”

When the batter was walked, Andrea looked around and said, “Where’s the ghost?” Jason replied, “That’s on the black and white scoreboard. That’s up behind us.”

I immediately spun around and looked at him. “It’s WHAT?!?”
“The ghost is only on the white scoreboard, not the Jumbotron. We can’t see it because it’s up behind us in the upper deck.” I must have looked like I was going to cry, because he looked at me and said, “Why? What did you do?” I had to spoil the surprise and tell him we had paid for the birthday greeting. He felt bad that he wouldn’t get to see it, because we would have had to move to the complete other side of the stadium to have it in view, and there wasn’t enough time to make our way over there before the inning when it would appear. Thankfully, they did send us a picture of said scoreboard after the game, but it wasn’t the same.

At least someone got to see it…

We have lots of other memories, like the roof collapse a couple of years ago:

The year we went tailgating when it was -30º and some idiot girl was wandering around with a painted on latex jersey. My friend George actually said, “I’ll bet if I smack her chest right now, those nips would just shatter. Like glass, baby. Pshew!” But these are the ones that stand out. Farewell, you lovely pillow on the Minneapolis skyline. It was fun while it lasted.

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