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Who You Gonna Call?

My son has gone through many ideas in the last year of what he would be for Halloween 2016: Scooby-Doo, Gizmo, etc. Some would require more work than others on my part. And my heart is still kind of in love with his Marty McFly from last year, his obsession so perfectly timed with Back to the Future Day. You also can’t discount the reusability of that costume, which totally still fits him this year.

But about two months ago, he settled on being a Ghostbuster. We had received a Ghostbuster costume many months ago, just for playtime. So, that was already taken care of. But, well, my demanding son demanded a proton pack.

Oy.

So, I present to you, a step-by-step on how I made my son a proton pack.

I took the back panel and straps off of a holey old backpack and glued them to a piece of cardboard. I added on a bunch of crap from the recycling bin and glued or taped it on as best as I could.

Recycled crap. The partial backpack and straps and cardboard are under this stuff.

Recycled crap. The partial backpack and straps and cardboard are under this stuff.

NOTE: I tried to avoid using cardboard as much as possible, since it tends to precipitate around here on treat-seeking holidays.

I bought some black spray paint and sprayed it all because it seemed way faster than hand painting it all. And it was.

Melted styrofoam, which I had to substitute out at the last minute.

Melted styrofoam, which I had to substitute out at the last minute.

NOTE: Apparently some types of Styrofoam melt when they come in contact with spray paint. Before using a large quantity of it for this project, you should probably test it first and see if you will have this issue. I had to make a minor adjustment for my son’s costume.

Secured with hot glue and Gorilla Tape, prior to painting.

Secured with hot glue and Gorilla Tape, prior to painting.

 

Old clothes and the great outdoor made for good spray painting conditions.

Old clothes and the great outdoors made for good spray painting conditions.

I glued on some color elements I purchased from Dollar Tree, such as a sound tube and jump rope.

The painted pack with added color elements.

The painted pack with added color elements.

I got glow sticks from Dollar Tree as well. I taped them onto the gun to make it glow. I also make it so that I could slip them into the egg cartons and it would glow. It looks cool, was easy, and provides better visibility to a shorty on Halloween.

The finished product, bustin' ghosts! (Glow sticks not yet attached.)

The finished product, bustin’ ghosts! (Glow sticks not yet attached.)

Can you tell that I am just not quite as passionate about this project as I was last year about making a DeLorean time machine out of cardboard and duct tape? While not movie quality, the proton pack was relatively easy (except for my glue gun is a piece of shit), and size and weight appropriate for my almost six year old boy.

The finished proton pack in action.

The finished proton pack in action.

AND this is an AWARD WINNING costume!!! He WON Funniest Costume at the YMCA for his age group.

Me, well, I of course wanted to be Harley Quinn this Halloween. Ponytails with multi-colored hair? It is like she was the comic book character created just for me. But in practicality, ponytails do not a Harley Quinn costume make. And while it will not deter many others, I neither have the body nor the inclination to run around half-naked on a cold Halloween night in Michigan (anymore).

So, I went with my most recent obsession: WKRP. I present to you, Miss Bailey Quarters. For some fan fiction featuring Bailey and Johnny, please click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2016/10/12/wkrp-baby-if-you-ever-wondered-what-would-happen-if-johnny-bailey-got-together-part-1/

I just HAD to have the Black Death shirt.

I just HAD to have the Black Death shirt.

Now, I realize my glasses aren’t big enough, but I need to wear my regular glasses so that I can, you know, cross the street and see and stuff. This is from the episode Rumors. I ordered the Johnny Fever shirt from CafePress.com. I was really happy with it. I ordered a medium and it was a little big, but I kind of wanted it to be so that I could procure the illusion that I rolled out of bed in the morning and borrowed it from Johnny himself. You know, the same story Bailey gives the staff at WKRP.

My WKRP jacket I made. Attached with safety pins for easy removal.

My WKRP jacket I made. Attached with safety pins for easy removal.

And…

My favorite WKRP in Cincinnati meme. Because I made it.

My favorite WKRP in Cincinnati meme. Because I made it.

Just because I can.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

When Movies Were Magical

My mother took me to see the movie Gremlins in the theater. I was probably way too young to be seeing it. I think it was maybe the second time it came around in theaters. (Back in the olden days of my youth, if a movie was really, really popular, they used to send it around in theaters again after the initial run. There was still a demand for it, and people weren’t able to just go out and buy a VHS tape of it to watch in their home endlessly at their leisure. VHS—see, I dated myself again.) It wasn’t a giant multiplex like they have now. It was a small theater downtown with only two screens, one theater was not much bigger than the average living room. Somehow this made the viewing experience more intimate.

Okay, I may have shown my own son Gremlins too early as well.

Okay, I may have shown my own son Gremlins too early as well.

And I would not even have suspected walking out of the theater that the movie had affected me at all. But then we went to go eat at McDonald’s. We ate in our car, because my mom is weird like that, then she sent me over with the empty bag and wrappers to the garbage can, a duty I usually loved. But suddenly I didn’t want to push open the little brown swinging door and leave my hand so exposed like that. The scene from Gremlins flashed in my head where the guy is trying to mail a letter and a gremlin pops out of the mailbox and starts chewing on the guy’s hand. My overactive child’s imagination could picture that happening, and it scared me.

How many movies now a days do that for you? For any child, even? Do they believe that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will really pop up out of the manholes in the street?

I remember when my mom took me to the same theater to see The NeverEnding Story. I don’t even remember any marketing for it. I don’t think there were ads on television; I didn’t beg to go see it. She just took me because she thought I would like it. Or maybe because she wanted to see it, I don’t know.

"It's not real; it's only a story!"

“It’s not real; it’s only a story!”

Because the theater was downtown in our closest, but small local city, we had to walk down a block, through an alley, and back to the parking lot where our car was after the movie. The tallest buildings are probably only four stories, tops. But the alley and the tall buildings were enough to give me the impression of the city Bastian lived in in the movie. And so I looked up in the blue, sunny sky at the smattering of clouds, and I BELIEVED that Falkor could fly over us at any moment, as he had at the conclusion of the movie. It was thrilling. I felt it in my blood. I have NEVER forgotten that feeling.

And I am not sure that I have ever experienced it since.

Yaaaaaaaaa!

“Yaaaaaaaaa!”

Are children going to walk out of the theater and believe that Transformers can really fly through the sky over their heads?  Maybe. But they also can go home and play with plastic toy versions on the floor in their bedrooms.

Part of Falkor’s magic was that you could not go buy a stuffed one in the store then. (You probably can now. If so, buy me one and then call 555-GUN-GLOW for the address to ship it to.)

This weekend the Rave theater near us had special showings of The NeverEnding Story. It might be greedy or stupid, but I yearned to be in that theater again when the theme song blared through the speakers, blocking out all the other sounds of popcorn and candy wrappers and slurping straws as clouds churned on the screen. I wanted to walk out of that theater again and believe that Falkor could be flying in the sky. Really, I was hoping my son would have a similar experience to what I had in 1984*. It turned out he wasn’t as impressed by it as I was. There could be several factors to that, including that he has seen the movie before on DVD in his own living room.

But, seeing it again was AWESOME. Maybe, sometimes, movies can still be magic.

Ever wonder what happened to Bastian, played by Barret Oliver? So did I. So I found out and wrote a post about it. It angers the dreadlock community. You can read it here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2013/01/13/what-i-learned-this-week-1132013/

Just a reminder I have an event this Sunday: The Kerrytown BookFest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For more details, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/events/

*All the awesome things came out in 1984: The NeverEnding Story, Punky Brewster, Night Court

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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What I Learned This Week – 1/17/16

What I learned this week was that working in an office outside of my house is exhausting. But, I got my first week down. Hopefully, even more things will click into place next week and I can rock it.

Here’s hoping…

This week I also learned that the same guy who co-founded WD-40 also founded the Fotomat.

Now, I’m sure after that statement that you have many questions.

A Fotomat back in their heyday

A Fotomat back in their heyday

What is the identity of this wonderful man who created one of the three items that must be found in every tool kit?

What are the other two items?*

How the f*** did you discover this?

One at a time, please.

So, I had been thinking about Fotomats.

Let me back up.

I had a dream a year or more ago (yes, I remember dreams long term. I used to keep a diary of them. For more on that, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/11/01/dreams-part-one-dream-journal/) where a boy I had a crush on in school was poor and homeless and living in a Fotomat in a nearby parking lot. This was weird for many reasons. The first being that I don’t think we even had any Fotomat overnight film developing booths in our area. Second, Fotomat’s went out of business in the late 1980s when every drug store installed a one hour photo machine. And last but not least, said crush lives in a very beautiful house that is much nicer than mine with his wife and kids.

But the dream deeply upset me, seeing anyone in that circumstance. I was reminded of that dream this morning when I yet again dream about the same boy from school. This time he was making me tacos. Yum. Then he took off his shirt. I am sure my subconscious did a bit of a photo-shop on his 40 year old body, but who am I to argue with my subconscious.

So then I looked up Fotomats. They were founded by Preston Fleet in 1965, who just two years earlier co-founded WD-40, our favorite lubricant. Well, maybe second favorite… At its height around 1980, there were over 4,000 locations across the country.

Did you know that Fotomat was one of the first companies to offer movie rental–ON VIDEO CASSETTE TAPES?! I know, right? It was like the stone ages or something. They started the service in 1979. Customers picked a title out of a catalog (almost exclusively Paramount titles), then the customer would return the next day to pick up the movie, pay $12 (!!!), and return it five days later. When local video rental locations started popping up providing movies quicker and cheaper, the service was discontinued.

When I think of starting a business, I think of great businesses that have run for over a hundred years like A&P and Coca-Cola. A&P is defunct now (I worked at Borders. I know who ran A&P, then came came over to run Borders further down the toilet. Just sayin’.) In my head, I just assume you have to have a successful company that makes the same product that will never become outdated. But Fotomat was popular enough to be on the stock exchange. Fotomat was acquired by Konica in 1982. It served a very needed purpose of its time. Sure, film developing and VHS rental are foreign terms to a lot of young people these days. But maybe the key isn’t to predict the next big thing. Maybe it is to learn how to meet the needs faster and cheaper that consumers struggle with today. Afterall, that is how Fotomat ended up replaced.

Hmmm… Now I must be off to my thinking seat to come up with a great business idea.

And now I’m hungry for tacos >:-)

* A good tool kit needs only three items: A hammer, duct tape, and WD-40.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

What I Learned This Week – 7/19/15

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This week I learned that the movie One Small Hitch, is a really, really good movie. I stumbled upon it in a romantic comedy search on Netflix. It is a 2013 movie starring Shane McRae and Aubrey Dollar as two childhood friends pretending to be engaged for the sake of Josh’s (McRae) dying father. Awkward situations ensue.

WEEK-One Small Hitch

I will admit that it did start a little slow, but the leads are both adorable and it only gets cuter when they move into an apartment together. One Small Hitch is like While You Were Sleeping, except no one has to be pushed onto the railroad tracks and end up in a coma. A few people get punched in the face though.

This week I also realized that I have the best CD player in the world.

Best CD player

Best CD player

Yes, some of us without an iPhone or mp3 player with a screen still rely on such devices to make collections (mix tapes), “playlists” if you will, of songs that suit our fancy on any particular day.

I have a big CD player in my kitchen, but I wanted to listen to a CD while laying in bed. So, I headed upstairs to the electronics graveyard to find a small CD player. I knew we had at least one. Actually, I found two. One was a jogproof one that I had purchased one year for my birthday. It wasn’t jogproof, and I am not a jogger. So, ya.

The other is the CD player I quickly recognized from my old job. For the 12 years I worked for Borders, I used this CD player nearly every day. You can see that I doodled on it, and marked it with stickers so that if someone stole it, I would know that it was mine.

I cannot believe that it still works! I do believe that it used to have an AC adapter, but I can’t presently find it. I used to put a CD on pause, then head off to a 3 hour meeting, leaving it spinning on my desk the whole time. Last night I popped in batteries of questionable age, and it still worked like a dream.

And so many functions! I can program what order I want to play the tracks from on a CD, which comes in handy for albums such as Pieces of You by Jewel, that contain some very good, and some not very good songs. It has repeat one or all. It has bass boost. It shows track number and time at the same time!

For being around 15 years old, it has held up remarkably well. The volume dial causes some interference in the headphones when adjusted. But I used to have headphones with a volume control in the cord, so that was never a problem.

I love that it is a little no-name brand. I love that at that time, they thought they still needed to spell out that it was “DIGITAL” technology.

Now, everything is.

Don’t get me started on my love of analog/cassette tapes.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time & GIVEAWAY going on over at Goodreads (ends August 15, 2015)
When You Least Expect It AVAILABLE NOW!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

The Hart of Alabama

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Why is it that women always seem to be looking for and finding love in Alabama?

It happens in the movie Sweet Home Alabama. It happens on the TV series The Hart of Dixie. And in the book called The Wind Could Blow a Bug.

I am writing this post in honor of the season finale of Hart of Dixie airing this Friday. While the CW has thus far stayed mum, the cast have all been pretty public that this is the end of the series.

Hart of Dixie's Wilson Bethel

Hart of Dixie’s Wilson Bethel

You probably don’t remember a little blog post I wrote three years ago about Hart of Dixie. The link is here. And I still feel the same way. That the show just never quite lived up to its potential. And a large part of it might be that the show has several fundamental connections to The O.C. The O.C. nailed it with almost every episode. Maybe I just never got used to the slower feel of things in Bluebell. Hell, the first season was over before I realized I was supposed to have paid attention to the background townsfolk every week. That made re-watching season one, and watching new episodes going forward, much more enjoyable.

Josh Lucas & Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Josh Lucas & Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

A few weeks ago, I was daydreaming on a cold Michigan winter day about sunny Alabama (or at least as it is portrayed by various other location shoots on my television) and a thought occurred to me:

Hart of Dixie and Sweet Home Alabama have a few things in common.

1. They both feature petite career women from the big city.

Rachel Bilson as Dr. Zoe Hart and Reese Witherspoon as Melanie Carmichael, hoity-toity fashion designer. And in both cases, the big city is NYC.

2. They both feature a blond guy who looks amazing with his shirt off.

Wilson Bethel as Wade Kinsella and Josh Lucas as Jake Perry.

3. They both include a dark-haired man as the “logical” choice in the love triangle.

Scott Porter as lawyer George Tucker and Patrick Dempsey as rich guy Andrew Hennings.

4. The lead female in both instances seems to only be sure of her “bad boy” choice once he makes something of himself. (Which, HELLO, totally NEGATES the “bad boy.”)

Wade gets series about owning his own bar, while Jake takes his love of glass to the next level.

5. They both include weddings affected by storms.

George and Lemon’s wedding was pushed from the town square into the old, rundown fire station, until it was eventually called off altogether. Melanie runs from her groom Andrew as the winds pick up and the rain starts to pour.

Lesson to be learned here: No outdoor weddings if you are a fictional character in Alabama.

6. They both include a friend with a big mansion house.

Lavon’s large mayoral mansion is the setting for many of the high-jinks in Bluebell, including the guest houses where Wade and Zoe reside.  Melanie holds her ill-fated wedding with Andrew at the Carmichael estate.

These are just a few of the things I noticed off the top of my head.

I will be very sad to see Hart of Dixie go. It may not have always fulfilled my craving, but I faithfully watched it every week. Sometimes Hart of Dixie nailed it. Like when Wade has to sing Crazy Earl down off the roof, and we discover that Crazy Earl if actually his father. Or when Zoe makes a date with the mysterious stranger in town, only to find out he is Wade’s brother.

I don’t know what the writers originally planned for Zoe’s love life, but it was always Wade for me. ❤

Zoe playing doctor with Wade

Zoe playing doctor with Wade

Did I wet your whistle for some more romantic adventures in Alabama? My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

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