Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lego Projects:"Fun House" (2012) & "Fun House 2.0" (2013)

In 2012, I decided to build a Lego fun house to take to BrickCon. It was going to be colorful and zany and would even have moving parts, by gum! 

So I did. And this was it.  (Pardon the crappy cellphone photos.)

I rigged up the motor and the technic elements so that the wheels on the side of the house would spin, and the duck would go round & round on top. I had wanted the "Fun House" sign to also bob up and down, but at the time, I couldn't figure out how to make that work.

I was proud of my colorful creation, and I took the fun house to BrickCon. But I made a mistake. Not a big one, but a mistake nonetheless. There was another Fun House at BrickCon, 2012. And when placing my Fun House, I saw the other one, and thought, "Oh, hey, they should go together!" because, I don't know, fun houses of a feather or something.

Little did I know, that other Fun House had even more mechanical bells and whistles and moving parts and was four times as cool as mine. Even in size it dwarfed mine considerably. Awkward!

Oh well! I was still proud of my little fun house.

Still, I felt I could do better. So five months later, for Bricks Cascade, 2013, I gave it an overhaul:

... and renamed it (Fun House 2.0, of course.) It was bigger, zanier, and more colorful, with more things going on inside (but fewer moving parts outside.)

Meanwhile, the duck graduated to the roof.

And I made sure that this time, it wasn't next to any other fun houses at that con. (Actually, I don't think there were any other fun houses that year.) Nay, I placed it between a haunted house (asylum?) and an Indiana Jones temple (also one of my MOCs.) Because... DIFFERENT!

Here's a video.

 Sadly, both versions of the Fun House have now been dismantled, their parts put to other uses and projects.

Maybe someday I'll make another one.

Fun House 3.0.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lesson Learned (Or, Why You Probably Shouldn't Show Kindergarteners Videos Off The Internet)

I work at an elementary school. Kids come in my room, I teach them stuff, and sometimes they even learn something. Some days, though, I do. And some days I just need a break. That's when I put on a video. My rationale is that I don't do this very often -- at least, not as often as I recall my elementary school teachers doing it. Besides, you can learn things from videos -- yes, you really can!

Today, in a rush, I was trying to put on a video for a group of about 15 kindergarteners. I went to pbskids.org, which is a big, fun website with lots of games and videos that are perfectly appropriate for that age group. I spotted Daniel Tiger. You remember Daniel? Cute little fuzzy tiger puppet from Mr. Rogers who wore a wristwatch and went to school with Prince Tuesday and the platypus kid? 
D'aw, so cute!

I knew they'd given him his own TV show, that he was now animated, and that he was, erm, apparently living in Mr. Rogers' old house and wearing his clothes and basically stealing his shtick... but I figured it was all harmless. I don't buy into the theory that Daniel ate Mr. Rogers so he could replace him. 

Not really...

What I did NOT know was that Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is not geared toward kindergarteners. It's meant for toddlers.

I discovered this fact just a few minutes into the video -- the first video I came across on the Daniel Tiger portion of pbskids. I just clicked on "videos" and it did the auto-play thing and I didn't stop to look at the episode title, which in retrospect I realize wasn't wise -- aye, I fully admit I did this to myself, but yeah.

This was the episode:

Did Daniel really go to the potty? WHY YES HE DID! Twice! As this kid does not wear pants, he suavely hopped onto the toilet(s) without a fuss, did his business, and sang about the experience. On one instance, he even managed to hallucinate (imagine?) that all the bathroom fixtures and decorations were dancing! Afterwards, he always remembered to wash and dry his paws.

Now, I have to hand it to my kindergarteners. They're at a special age where they know what they're watching is ridiculous, yet they're not to the point where they'll actually start a riot over it. First graders would've booed Daniel right out of the loo and off the screen. Kindergarteners will at least politely tolerate 12 minutes and 16 seconds of insanity. 

I challenge you to watch the video and not laugh:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSFLO1YubW0 (If that link is broken, try finding it on pbskids.org.)

I may have been the only one in the room laughing (and going What. Have. I. Done?) But there were plenty of other reactions happening. Some "ews." Some awkward fidgets. Several of the kids put their hands over their eyes when Daniel hopped on the toilet. 

But the funniest comment I heard a kid make was actually during the part where Daniel and his dad are talking to the guy at the music shop. An annoyed: "Why would that guy be talking to those tigers? Tigers can't talk."

There's another video on pbskids... called Prince Wednesday Goes To The Potty. Was Daniel not convincing enough? And who the heck is Prince Wednesday? Did the king and queen have another child?

THESE TWO PEOPLE had another child?

Okay, well, at least he wears pants.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Movies I'm Excited About - 2015 Edition

Confession: I don't go to "the movies" that much anymore. I'm content to wait a few months after something's been released and let Netflix ship the movie directly to me. Maybe I'm just lazy, or maybe the way I do things is awesome. Either way, there are a few films coming out in the next couple years that I'm more or less excited about and may actually go see in the theater. These are them....

Release: Summer Fall, 2015
Peter Pan adaptationish thing starring Hugh Jackman, (not to be confused with Peter Pan Live! with Christopher Walken.)

The storyline -- and I've only seen the trailer and I don't want to be spoiled too much, so this is vague at best -- revolves around a young Peter and a young Hook but also some other pirate and, I dunno, I guess they're twisting Peter's origin story a bit. Also Tiger Lily is white, so I'm not sure what that's about.

Side note: It's funny how many Peter Pan-esque things we've been bombarded with since the novel went into the public domain awhile back.... Peter and the Starcatcher(s)Jake & The Neverland Pirates, the story arcs on TV's Once Upon A Time, and all those Tinker Bell movies, to name a few. But hey, I really liked the 2003 film (Peter Pan) so I'm interested to see what surprises 2015's Pan will hold.

Beauty And The Beast
Release: 2016? 2017
I love Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast. I've seen it roughly 1500 times. I love the Broadway musical. I've seen that (a more reasonable) four times. Now they're making a live-action version! With Emma Watson confirmed as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, I'm thrilled with the casting choices. Meanwhile, there's a thread on the film's imdb page titled: "Colin Firth As Belle's Father." Wouldn't that be cool? Heck, give Colin Firth any role in the film and I will be die of happiness. I repeat, die. Colin Farrell, on the other hand.... #no

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Release: 2016
A new movie set in the Harry Potter universe? I don't even care what fantastic beasts it includes*, I'm there.

*Okay, there had better be owls....

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair
Release: 2017? Ever?
This was announced in 2013, and there has been no word on casting or anything since, so I won't hold my breath, but I'd love to see another Narnia movie come to the big screen. Such a shame that they only made the three films when there are seven books in the series. Come on, guys!

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
Release: 2015 February, 2016
I don't know. Maybe I'll hate it. The jury's still out on the actor playing Darcy -- he looks like the lovechild of Leonardo DiCaprio (in The Man In The Iron Mask) and Dr. Will from Big Brother, with a pinch of Dominic Cooper thrown in. Bingley's a touch better-looking, but he also kind of looks like Keira Knightley (oh hello, it's Pip from Great Expectations! Oh this is gonna be good. Or terrible. Train wreck? I'm so there.)

The Walk
Release: October, 2015
The story of that French guy who tightrope-walked between the twin towers back in the day.
It's directed by Robert Zemeckis and it's not suspended anicapture or whateverthefudge that freaky animation thing is that he does these days, so I will buy a movie ticket to support that.

Community: The Movie
Release: ???
Well, we're honest-to-goodness getting that sixth season -- now we just need "a movie"! Kickstarter, anyone? TAKE MY MONEY.

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Movies I am NOT excited about...

Maggie (2015)
Description: A teenage girl in the Midwest becomes infected by an outbreak of a disease that slowly turns the infected into cannibalistic zombies. During her transformation, her loving father stays by her side. Starring Abigail Breslin and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

VANish (2015)
Description: A kidnapped young woman is forced on a road trip full of murder and mayhem that takes place entirely in her captor's getaway van. 

Hansel Vs. Gretel (2015)
Description: When Gretel falls under a dark spell and organizes a coven of witches, Hansel must find the courage to fight his twin sister and the sinister forces controlling her.

London Fields (2015)
Description: Clairvoyant femme fatale Nicola Six has been living with a dark premonition of her impending death by murder. She begins a tangled love affair with three uniquely different men: one of whom she knows will be her murderer. Starring Theo James, Amber Heard, and Johnny Depp.

31 (2015)
Description: Five people are kidnapped on the days leading up to Halloween and held hostage in a place called Murder World. While trapped, they must play a violent game called 31 where the mission is to survive 12 hours against a gang of evil clowns.