Every year around this time I like to make a list of the things—movies, TV shows, books, events, et cetera—that I’m most looking forward to in the year ahead. It’s then fun to look back a year later and see if those things were worthy of my anticipation.
In no particular order, this year’s list includes:
New TV shows: Or more specifically one new TV show from Joss “Buffy/Angel/Firefly” Whedon! Premiering February 13, Whedon’s Dollhouse stars Eliza Dushku (from Buffy), Amy Acker (from Angel), and that guy from BSG who plays Helo. Production squabbles with Fox aside, the concept is a cool one and I have the utmost faith in Joss. So this is something I’m cautiously optimistic about.
New movies: My three most anticipated movies of 2009 are Terminator: Salvation, Harry Potter 6, and the new JJ Abrams’ re-imagining of Star Trek. Normally I couldn’t care less about Trek (I’m more of Galaxy Quest kind of guy), but JJ is just a notch behind Joss Whedon on my must-see list, and that trailer looks incredible.
New Fiction: Three of my favorite genre authors have new work coming out in 2009: David Anthony Durham’s The Other Lands (a follow-up to his beautiful fantasy debut, Acacia); George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons (book five in the Song of Ice and Fire series); and Tad Williams’s Shadowrise (the final volume in the Shadowmarch trilogy). I’m also somewhat guiltily anticipating the arrival of Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead, the first new Indy novel in a decade.
New Arrivals: Have I mentioned we’re having another baby? We’re currently calling him/her “Sprout” and he/she is due in August. Our little family is growing!
Family Milestones: Ethan’s 2nd birthday rolls around in March, and my 10-year wedding anniversary comes this September. Monumental events, all.
Year of the Rattlesnake: I make no promises, but things are looking good toward getting a playable demo—and maybe even the entire first chapter—for my always-in-progress adventure game Rise of the Hidden Sun: A ‘Rattlesnake’ Jake Dawson Adventure out the door before the end of the year.
And last but not least…
The Second Annual Outdoor Movie Night: Last summer’s first annual Outdoor Movie Night featured Raiders of the Lost Ark on a 20-foot screen in our back yard, and it was awesome. This year I’m aiming to make it bigger and better! More people, more food, and more cheesy ’80s movie goodness. I’m thinking either The Princess Bride, Back to the Future, or Ghostbusters on the big screen on a warm July night.
A year ago at this time I posted a list of 10 things I was looking forward to in 2008. Before I look ahead to 2009, I thought it would be fun to see how each of those things from 2008 turned out.
1. Ethan’s first birthday. This was as amazing and magical as I’d imagined. I’m looking forward to his second birthday with even more enthusiasm!
2. The New England Patriots Invitational Tournament. Also known as the NFL Playoffs, this one didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped or expected. But ah well, 18-1 is almost as good as 19-0. Right? Nah, not really. Alas.
3. Getting healthy. Sadly, this one’s still a work in progress.
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In a word: Awesome.
5. Easter Island. I did indeed make it to Easter Island last March, and it was a great experience. Lingering health issues were kind of a drag on the trip, though, and I would much rather have traveled there with Penny and Ethan than go solo like I did.
6. Spider-Man: Brand New Day. The Spidey comics went from monthly to three times a month and featured an all-new, all-not-married status quo for Peter Parker. And, by and large, it was a great year for the character. I’m still jazzed about the series as we head into year two of the new era.
7. Creating… something. Last year was to be the one where I finally made some headway on either Rise of the Hidden Sun or my young adult novel. I chose the novel and managed to get about 45,000 words into it before losing steam around Thanksgiving. So, not a success but not an out-and-out failure, either. A work in progress.
8. New TV shows. I was really looking forward to Jericho (returning from the dead) and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Jericho only lasted seven episodes but tied up most of the loose ends nicely, and Terminator started well, then got a bit spotty before coming on very strong here in season two. Here’s hoping for a season three pickup in 2009.
9. The Red Sox in Japan. Wow, I completely forgot this even happened. It was a neat little sideshow at the time but, ultimately, not all that big a deal. I’m more likely to remember the Sox losing game 7 of the ALCS than anything about their time in Japan.
10. Climbing a mountain. This finally happened in October during our vacation to Acadia National Park. It was a wimpy little mountain, but the views were spectacular and it felt grea to be back outdoors. Maybe 2009 will be the year where I finally get back into hiking the way I’d like to, though.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I used to know everything there was to know about Star Wars. Then came the prequels and the Trade Federation and midiclorians and … blech. My interest waned. But as Yoda might say: There is another! And that “other” is my seven-year-old nephew Tyler, who went all Jedi on my ass on Thanksgiving Day when it came to basic knowledge of Star Wars.
Me (all cocky): “Okay, so what do you think of Darth Grevious?”
Ty (shaking his head): “It’s General Grevious!”
Me (humbled): “Oh, right.”
Me (later): “So do you like Princess Amidala?”
Ty (rolling his eyes): “You mean Queen Amidala?”
Me (defeated): “Oh, right.”
Me (much later): “Okay, well, what do you think about Jar Jar Binks?”
Ty: “HE’S FUNNY!”
Me (mortified): “Then the Emperor has already won.”
There ought to be a law against sub-freezing temperatures before Thanksgiving. I set out to finish mulching our leaves yesterday, and not only was it below freezing outside, the damn leaves were frozen to the ground and my leaf piles were basically big, brown leafcicles. The mulcher actually spat out brown ice chips. Twelve bags of mulched leaves later and I’m still not done. I miss city living.
We rented Get Smart last night. I’d heard it was just “meh,” but I held out hope. My review? Meh. Anne Hathaway is pretty, though.
Today we’re heading to the mall for a family photo shoot, the results of which will become our Christmas card. Yes, we’ve become that family—the one that sends a picture of themselves and calls it a holiday greeting. When did this happen?
I finally ordered my new computer on Friday. It’s a custom-built Dell Slim Studio desktop—my first desktop system since 2002. It won’t get here till the middle of December, though. The wait is killing me.
What do you want to bet that sometime around January or February I’ll probably wish I’d spent my money on a snowblower instead?
I wrote for 20 straight days this month, and then ran out of steam. I’m now going on four straight days without writing. I need to find my work ethic again.
We rented Forgetting Sarah Marshall over the weekend. I don’t usually get too excited for Judd Apatow movies, but this one was written by and starred Jason Segal of How I Met Your Mother, and I was interested to see how it turned out. The verdict: Hilarious. Definitely worth renting. Highlights: Mila Kunis and Russell Brand. Lowlight: Jason Segal’s private parts in full-frontal HD. I’m going to have nightmares for weeks.
Other than the movie, we spent the bulk of the weekend raking and mulching several tons of wet leaves from our back yard. Note to future homeowners: A big yard is not necessarily a good thing. I learn this the hard way year after year after year.
I’m thisclose to buying a new computer, partly because my laptop is giving me hints that its days are numbered and partly because that same laptop won’t run any of the new adventure games I want to play (e.g., A Vampyre Story, Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual, Sinking Island, and The Abbey).
The only problem is that I hate and fear Windows Vista, because it won’t let me play any of my favorite old adventure games that I’ve spent entire weekends getting to run on XP. Sigh.
Busy weekend. My parents babysat Ethan for us on Saturday evening so Penny and I could go out for dinner and a movie to celebrate our anniversary. On the movie front, our choices were pretty limited. Burn After Reading was out because I can’t stand Brad Pitt. Vicki Christina Barcelona was a contender until we watched the trailer for it and hated it. So finally, we decided on Ghost Town because a) the trailer was funny, and b) so is Ricky Gervais.
It ended up being the kind of enjoyable, forgettable rom-com stuff that’s perfect for a date night. A little uneven at times, but frequently hilarious, too. Well worth the two hours and $20.
Being out of practice on the whole “going out” thing, we didn’t make dinner reservations and were consequently turned away at the first three restaurants we tried in Beverly. We had better luck in Salem, where we managed to get a table at an upscale Italian place called The Grapevine. The food was decent (I had pumpkin raviolis), we drank a half-bottle of Savignon Blanc, and I questioned the waitress’ assertion that the wild boar tenderloin on the menu was actually “wild” since the boar was apparently raised on a farm in Canada. She responded with all the confidence of John McCain and Barack Obama discussing the economic crisis (which is to say, not much), but we moved on and had a pleasant dinner with refreshingly adult conversation.
Yesterday my dad and I went to the Patriots-Dolphins game at Foxboro. I bought him the tickets for his 60th 39th birthday, and we had a great time despite seeing the Patriots get obliterated by a team that went 1-15 last year and started this season 0-2. The weather was nice, anyway, and our seats were on the 50-yard-line. (About a mile from the field, but on the 50-yard-line nevertheless.) The Brady-less Patriots don’t look very good, but any time I can watch the game with my dad it’s a good time.
After the apparent debacle that was The Clone Wars movie (currently at 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and the horrifying mess of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, I keep thinking that Star Wars is dead to me—and I keep hoping that George Lucas will just start feeling the same way himself.
This snippet from Joe Joe Neumaier‘s “Dear George Lucas: Stop Ruining Star Wars!” article in the NY Daily News got me to thinking about it again.
Just keep in mind that when some of us saw the Death Star explode that first time, it already was in 3-D, It blasted off the screen, into our heads and lodged in our movie memories like a permanent scene in an Oscar night movie montage. We don’t need 3-D AT-ATs and forest cruisers that jump off the screen. We just want you to stop. Create something new.
That’s really it. Create something new. Please. No, Lucas doesn’t owe the fans or anyone else anything. He doesn’t have to stop if he doesn’t want to, and lord knows he’s still raking in the money. On the other hand, he keeps saying how he wants to make all these small indie movies that no one will watch, and how that’s his real passion now. So do it already!
In the end, I have a nice DVD set of the original trilogy in my collection. I’ll probably pick up a copy of Revenge of the Sith someday, too, and that’ll be it. The prequels and expanded universe stuff has diminished Lucas’s original vision considerably, but I just try to savor the stuff I like and ignore the rest.
I suppose it’s like a tree falling in the wilderness. If I never see the Clone Wars movie or any of this other dreck he’s putting out, did it ever really happen? Based on the reviews I’ve been seeing, I sure hope not.
I think it was the summer before eighth grade that my best friend Tony and I, inspired by the brilliance of a little thing called Space Balls, set out to make our own Star Wars parody. We called it “Star Whores: The Adventures of Puke Flyswatter and Hand Solo” with the subtitle “Episode VI: Return of the Spaghetti” (pronounced Spa-get-eye, of course).
We only got as far as making a brilliant-looking movie poster and about 15 minutes of raw footage using action figures, hand-drawn backgrounds, and whatever props we could find before school started and the project was forgotten. I think this was around the time we discovered girls and realized we weren’t headed on a path conducize to having any kind of positive social contact with them, ever.
I’m reminded of it now because of this video. We must have spent hours meticulously watching and rewinding Space Balls to transcribe this scene word for word in my parents’ living room. (Saturday nights were fun!) I don’t remember what we planned to do with it or if it was even part of the whole Star Whores project, but I can only imagine how much easier our lives would have been if the Internet had existed in 1989. Not to mention how much more of an embarrassing digital footprint we might have left for ourselves.
Anyway, in answer to the question posed here by Dark Helmet:
“What happened to then?”
“We missed it.”
I’m pretty sure then is finally now. Or something like that.
Best comic book movie ever? No, probably not, but The Dark Knight does deserve to be part of that conversation. It’s that good. (No one is more surprised than me.) It’s a fantastic popcorn movie that felt just slightly too long at two-and-a-half hours but had enough legit “wow” moments to justify the hype. Needless to say I liked this one a lot more than Batman Begins. Oh, and Heath Ledger was great, even if he did seem to be channeling Al Franken the whole time.