You want REAL Star Wars 3-D? Try this instead.

One of the best ways to gauge the success of a toy is its ability to appeal to generations of children without changing the formula. There are a few that come instantly to mind — Playdoh, Slinky, Lincoln Logs and of course, LEGOs.

My first memories of LEGOs involve dumping them from a large bucket onto the floor and trying to figure out something to build with the colorful, plastic interlocking bricks. Usually, my limited abilities could only muster a house with a very square roof or a poor replica of The Great Wall.

I was never incredibly adept at making masterpieces on my own, but enjoyed playing with the blocks once in a while. Fast forward a couple of decades to our first trip to Comic-Con when we encountered oversized LEGO creations featuring characters from Toy Story and Harry Potter.

So, while shopping that Christmas season, we decided to try our hand at the modern LEGO playsets and chose a set based on The Weasley’s home from the Harry Potter series, The Burrows. We put it together on Christmas Eve night last year in a few hours while watching Christmas cartoons and have decided to make it a Maddy tradition.

Unlike the buckets containing a mix of various sizes, these new sets have ridicuously detailed instruction panels, allowing you to build miniature worlds, one piece at a time.

Since we had such a wonderful experience with The Burrows, we requested my in-laws buy us a larger LEGO set this Christmas. It’s been an incredible way to connect, a great family activity, and a nice escape from the internet/iPhone/other electronic devices.

So, on Christmas morning, we open our gift to discover a LEGO Millennium Falcon, complete with a slew of miniature Star Wars characters to go with it. A week later, we set out on the mission to tackle the monochromatic blocks that promised to look like Han Solo’s prized ship.

We dumped out the various bags, containing the more than 1,200 miniscule blocks, hooks, caps and rods that would bring the Falcon to life. And we were greeted with not one, but three instruction manuals on how to build this massive replica of Star Wars’ famed ship. After wondering how an 8-year-old could put this together alone, we began separating the parts by color and shape and continued our mission.

Piece by piece, layer by layer, the Falcon started taking shape. First, the floor gave way to the control room and area where Luke honed his Jedi skills, I could almost hear him say, “With the blast shield down, I can’t even see. How am I supposed to fight?” (Coincidentally, the set also comes with a LEGO Luke complete with reversible head and blast shield.)

We spent hours in our toy room upstairs, fighting off the leg-fall-asleep syndrome and the carpet imprints onto our skin to configure our miniature ship. The almost-hexagonal frame became a second nature to us as we replicated designs that would make up the exterior panels of the ship. One of my favorite features in the removable chamber that slides Luke in and out for the dog fight with Tie Fighters.

"She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."

When we finally snapped the cockpit on and placed Han inside, there was much celebration, although our chihuahua was presumably unimpressed. We placed the Falcon next to its slightly larger twin in our collection (which we did not have to assemble.)

After conquering the Falcon, Duane decided to surprise me with the complete Hogwarts set for my birthday. Our nieces and nephew had gotten us an addition to the school which we put together in a few hours on Christmas Eve, so we were eager to attach it to the larger set.

Again, we were met with three instruction booklets laying down the challenge for the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry.

This time, we tried a new strategy in which we each took a book and started putting together the bags corresponding to our chosen book. We then interlocked them when completed.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in all its LEGO glory.

The detail of the set is remarkable, from the Gryffindor and Slytherin common rooms to the Great Dining Hall to the Owlery to the image of Sirius Black in the fire place. Many of the most intricate details of these sets are never seen by the naked eye, yet it was not overlooked.

While building these sets, I couldn’t help but wonder who designs them? Do they have LEGO engineers sitting in a room, jotting down every minute detail — every sticker placed, every joint locked?

With theme parks now in California and Florida and building sets based on multiple movie franchises and beyond, LEGO is challenging the imaginations and budding architectural skills of generations of children to come, and all of us adults who remain children at heart.

Calling all Nerd Herders: Chuck Finale live blog NOW!!

Well, the time is now, the day is here….  Grab your tissues, $5 footlong and let’s share this event together!!

Just click on the link below:

Chuck Live Blog

Original Post:

After 5 years of flashes, Buy Morons and John Casey grunts, the adventures of team Bartowski are coming to a close.

As an uber-Chuck fan, I’m going to be running a live blog here tonight to commemorate 5 seasons of one of the best, yet grossly under-promoted shows in NBC history. We’ll laugh, cry and maybe rock on to some Jeffster – so grab a $5 footlong and join me back here for the fun!!

Live blog will start approx. 7:30 p.m. Here’s a preview of tonight’s episode to tide us over til then:

Let the convention season begin!

San Diego Comic-Con ( will not be a destination for Ashlee and I again this year.  We missed last year and, sadly, will miss again this year.  It’s almost a full-time job to swing tickets with the near “Power Ball” chances of being chosen, and between airfare, hotel, and car rental, it costs more than some full-time jobs pay.  Considering that we do not go ‘small’ for our trips to California, we felt it would be best to avoid pretending to be Mitt Romney with our monetary capabilities, if you catch my drift.

We are heading to a couple of familiar geek-friendly spots, though.

Mega-Con ( is an Orlando, Florida convention, held on February 17th-19th, with a variety of fan entertainment.  There is a major focus on anime, which is highlighted by a slew of slothful sycophants wearing garb from their favorite Pokemon.  I become annoyed by their constant hugging and interaction with random strangers who share their interests in squealing upon meeting – and hugging.

Apart from the deluge of woven hat wearing, pubescent squealers, Mega-Con offers fan interaction with panels of comic book artists and writers, Star Wars, and various other topics, as well as autograph lines for celebrities like Stan Lee, cast members from Start Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other favorites.

Lego fans are always abuzz over the diorama displays of dynamic dimensions.  Lots of vendors are available for screen printed shirts to display your love of Dr. Who or the Green Lantern, the Green Hornet, the Green Arrow, or possibly even the Green Giant.
Further north, Steel-City Con ( is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania convention, held on March 2nd-4th.  It’s a smaller scale version of Mega-Con by far, but still has great media guests.


The focus for Steel-City Con is different.  It has a majority of its space taken up by vendors of classic toys and collectables.  There are no panels.

Media guests in the past have included Adam West and Henry Winkler.  This time, there is an incredible lineup of 70s stars and Star Wars actors.  Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) and his son, Corey Dee Williams (Klaatu – a minor character from Star Wars) will join Anthony Daniels (C3PO) for autograph signings and photo opportunities.

Stars of the classic television series, The Brady Bunch, will be in attendance as well.  Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady) and Christopher Knight (Peter Brady) will be there.  Wesley Eure and Kathleen Coleman (Will and Holly – Land of the Lost), Butch Patrick (The Munsters and Lidsville) and Johnny Whitaker (Sigmund and the Sea Monster and Family Affair) will all be representing a mini-reunion of Sid and Marty Krofft Superstars.  That will bring back Saturday Morning memories for me!

Lidsville <–Theme Song/Intro

Stepping forward two decades, Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills 90210) will be appearing and Ian Petrella, who played Randy on ‘A Christmas Story’.  That should cover most famous people named Ian.  There are plenty of other media guests and artists attending to fill up a full weekend, so this should be a fun excursion without the high cost of airline travel cross-country…although, there is not a more pleasant city on earth than San Diego, California.

Kevin Jones and his sock monkey hat

  1. There’s a lot to like about West Virginia University’s Kevin Jones, starting with his 20 points and 11 rebounds a game. 
  2. But almost as impressive is the way he can pull off a post-game sock monkey hat.
  3. S/o to kevin jones for having a sock monkey hat.. Didn’t think i could love him more, until now ☺❤❤❤❤
  4. Jones showed off his hat this week at the Capital Classic in Charleston.
  5. Several #WVU men’s players walked in at half. Kevin Jones wearing what friend called “Sock Monkey Hat”…gift from @bitmapped?
  6. You can see him being interviewed in it here at about the 2 minute mark:
  7. West Virginia rebounds to win over Marshall in Capital Classic
  8. A fun hat helps people identify with you.
  9. Kevin jones is wearing the same monkey hat my 16 month old nephew has! Lawl 🙂
  10. Here’s a gratuitous photo of another cutie in a sock monkey hat:
  11. Does Kevin’s sock monkey style make you want your own hat?
  12. There are all kinds of places to get one:
  13. I just hope you pull yours off as well as Kevin Jones does his.

Whatever happened to Obie?

  1. It all started with a crazy, game-changing play in the Orange Bowl. Just as Clemson seemed ready to run the ball into its endzone to take the lead, West Virginia’s Darwin Cook plucked the ball out and ran 99 yards the other way. Momentum swung in a major way.
  2. Darwin Cook 99 Yard Fumble For Touchdown!!! (2012)
  3. Fans were stunned.So was Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot. Darwin crushed Obie after running through the endzone.
  4. “Obie doubted us, too, so I had to tackle him,” Darwin Cook said after WVU’s Orange Bowl win.
  5. West Virginia player tackles Orange Mascot after TD
  6. Even the Orange Bowl Mascot isn’t safe from the Wrath of the Mountaineers!!!
  7. Obie the Orange Bowl Mascot gets creamed. What a job !! What a life !! Too Funny!!
  8. Is it mean that I love seeing mascots get taken out? #obie Orange Bowl
  9. That slice of orange at the bottom of the pile is Obie.
  10. did anyone see the hug darwin cook gave obie the orange at the orange bowl
  11. Hug?
  12. Turns out Obie’s official bio lists the fun-loving orange as 5-8, 175.
  13. Oh, and one more thing…
  14. Darwin Cook Orange Bowl
  15. Oops.
  16. It’s a girl??? Great relation to crushing “Obie” the orange…
  17. The reaction of the WVU player when he finds out Obie is a girl is funny as hell.
  18. It seems Obie turned out OK.
  19. Mountaineer fans were sympathetic.
  20. @OrangeBowl please tell Obie that I hope shes okay!!! Also, you can show her this:…
  21. But Obie was going to get the last word….
  22. RT @SIASport: Turns out Obie the Orange Bowl mascot is still sore after THAT hit by Darwin Cook
  23. Obie’s Revenge: The Orange Bowl is juicing the controversy over last week’s sacking of mascot “Obie” for all the…
  24. Get well soon Obie.

Are you interested in Pinterest? Let's chat

Ever heard of Pinterest?

If the answer is yes, you’re probably salivating and crying out “Yes, yes, yes!” right now.

If not, consider whether harmless addiction is something you might like to embrace.

Monica Orosz wrote about the social media craze in today’s Daily Mail:

“The site is like one giant, delicious scrapbook of ideas. Browse to your heart’s delight by category or by creative people you know. Create your own bulletin boards and “pin” your own items there.”

Some Pinterest enthusiasts from Nerd Living and The Mommyhood will convene at 1 p.m. for a live chat. They’ll reveal obsessions great and small.

We hope you join us, too:

To do so, CLICK HERE

Join us as we chat with the 'Pearls Before Swine' guy

Hello comic strip fans! Join us at 4 p.m. Friday for a live chat with Stephan Pastis, writer of the insanely popular “Pearls Before Swine” strip.

Stephan has graciously agreed to take questions from readers.

“Pearls Before Swine” pairs an angry, arrogant Rat with a sweet but dumb Pig, the latter of whom is protected by a violent, albeit delusional Guard Duck.

Pig and Rat’s friends also include a bookish, intelligent Goat, and a poor, besieged Zebra whose only goal is to keep from being eaten by his inept and inarticulate next-door neighbors, the Fraternity of Zeeba Zeeba Eata crocodiles.

Nominated four times for best newspaper comic strip by the National Cartoonist Society, Pearls has won the award twice, in 2003 and 2006.

The Daily Mail started running “Pearls Before Swine” at the beginning of this year.

We hope you’ll join us for the chat. It should be a lot of fun.


Fitocracy and gamification – or, Sore at level four

A fairly new fitness-based social network called Fitocracy recently opened up its beta version to a wider audience. The service allows users to log workout routines and post comments and give “props” on other users’ progress, a la Facebook.

What caught my attention, however, is Fitocracy’s use of gamification.

For those unfamiliar with the term, gamification refers to the use of video game mechanics (leveling up/progress bars, achievements, quests, that sort of thing) to encourage a particular behavior in users. Think of the mobile app foursquare, for instance – it allows people to “check in” at their location, rewarding them for doing so by giving them points and occasionally badges for unique check-ins. Leave your mark at a particular place more often than someone else, and you earn the achievement of mayorship. None of these little perks actually provides any tangible reward, save for the occasional discount, but they drive the user to keep checking in to places, just to see what they’ll earn next. Continue reading