Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Time To Say Goodbye

Lucy's dad here.  It's been nearly a year since the last post on this blog.  And it was spotty for the year prior to that.  I'm dropping in to tell you that I've decided to shut this place down.  I'm going to capture this site via Adobe Acrobat and share it with Lucy someday down the road.

The truth of the matter is that I found it increasingly hard to impose an online persona onto her as her real personality started to emerge.  However funny the idea of a baby that reads Cormac McCarthy, guns down Bin Laden, berates Santa Claus, and provides pop culture commentary may (or may not) be to you, that's just not Lucy.

She likes the color purple.  She's really good at coloring.  She's a little reckless, but never seems to get hurt.  She likes to tell "spooky stories" before bedtime that aren't really that spooky at all.  She loves to play outside with her friends.  She climbs on just about everything.  She can do this:

She likes it when we chase her.  She still comes into our bedroom around 6 am every morning and falls asleep on her purple unicorn pillow pet.  She likes to play catch with her Backyardigans ball.  She's right-handed, but bats left-handed.  She was Tinkerbell for Halloween.  She likes to wear fancy clothes.

She still occasionally throws tantrums.  She's never used a pacifier, but she still has a blankey that was once pink but is now gray.  She gets attached to stuffed animals and makes them have conversations with each other.  Sometimes she sings herself to sleep.  She likes going on bike rides and getting her face painted.

She likes to be tickled.  She doesn't have an inside voice.  Sometimes she still asks her mommy to rock her to sleep.  She knows that Notre Dame football is important to her daddy, so she asks him about it every once in a while.  She loves the ocean.

She can do perfect somersaults, and her cartwheels are coming along.  She can count to 20, but sometimes skips from 14 to 18.  She still believes that her daddy goes into space on Mondays and Wednesdays to feed the Martians, even though she knows he works in an office building.  She loves to do crafts and make presents for people.  When she wakes up, the first person she asks for is still mommy.

She's gone from this:

To this:

I can't do her justice anymore, and I probably never did in the first place.  The best I can hope for is that she'll get a few chuckles out of this dusty old website someday and not be too embarrassed that her dad did this.  

So that's it.  So long.  Farewell.  'Til we meet again.  Thanks for reading.  It's been fun.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lucy reviews A Visit From The Goon Squad

Hard at work on my next blog entry.

I don't mean to brag, but I liked Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad long before it won the coveted 2011 Rooster from The Morning News Tournament of Books.  Then it won the Pulitzer, and people really started paying attention.  HBO reportedly picked it up and will begin production on a series.

A Visit from the Goon Squad [Deckle Edge] 1st (first) edition Text Only

Before I get to my review of A Visit From The Goon Squad, I'm going to list a few other things I liked before they were cool:

1.   Tricycles
2.   Global warming
3.   Polar bears


4.   Stomping hippies
5.   Bacon
6.   Sippy cups
7.   Community
8.   Elmer's glue
9.    Axe Cop


A Visit From The Goon Squad is either a novel, a set of interconnected short stories, or something else.  I'm not quite sure how to classify something that features an entire story/chapter told via Powerpoint.  It really doesn't matter, I guess.  All you need to know is that it features a huge cast of characters that are all somehow connected to aging record producer Bennie Salazar or Sasha, his kleptomaniac assistant.  We jump all around in time, from the late 1970s to the future.  We have multiple points of view.  The action takes place on both coasts and in foreign countries.

So what's it about?  Egan's theme can be summed in one exchange between Bennie and his former band-mate Scotty:  “Time’s a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?”  Hardly anything new.  Heck, I was considering this theme months ago (back when I still slept in a crib) as I slogged through that piece of crap Middlemarch by George Eliot.  Thankfully, Egan doesn't spend any time complaining about trains and what they might do to nature (answer: make it more awesome) like that pansy Eliot. 

Middlemarch (Oxford World's Classics) 
Looks riveting, huh?

Characters come and go, but they all have one thing in common:  they are looking forward to the future, to where they'll be in five, ten, fifteen, twenty years or they're looking to the past.  Not a single one is concerned with the present.  So Egan gives us glimpses of the past and one mildly unsettling glimpse of the year 2020 (2020?  20/20 vision?  Hindsight is 20/20.  Man, I'm a clever little bugger) where everyone has become so connected thanks to the internet that it is hard to find a truly unique experience that hasn't already been streamed, live-blogged, and shared with the world.  Entertainment is instantaneous (and boring) and somehow impure because so many cooks were in the kitchen when it was created, and its distribution is sterile and devoid of interaction.  Bennie, nearing  the end of his career as a music producer, stops looking forward and reaches into his own past to pluck out a man who never succumbed to the digital age, never had a profile on Facebook, never blogged anything, and never even owned a computer.  He plops that man up on a stage in New York city with a microphone and a guitar, and guess what happens?

One more thing:  If you want to belabor the Middlemarch point, you can analogize all of Eliot's bedwetting over trains with Egan's bedwetting over the internet.  Back in the 1800s, trains were a big deal because they connected people across a country in a way they hadn't been before.  Same thing with the internet, except it's all digital.  Seriously, Notre Dame, just give me a diploma now.  I can spout crap like this all day with one hand tied behind my back.

I'm not going to lie.  Egan isn't saying anything new or groundbreaking in A Visit To The Goon Squad.  But she is saying it in a way that it hasn't been said before.  And she crafts an entire chapter/story into a Powerpoint presentation that somehow ends up being the best in the book instead of a lame, hipster-y gimmick.  Pretty amazing, if you ask me.  I've embedded that chapter below:

I award A Visit From Goon Squad 8 out of 10 juice boxes.  I deducted one juice box because I don't really like the way she bashes the internet.  The internet is where I find loads of cool stuff, like this:


I deducted the other juice box because I drank it. 

So next time you're in a bookstore, pick this one up.  You can trust me.  I have my finger on the pulse of our nation, and I know whether a  thing's cool or not, oftentimes before you even knew that thing existed.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lucy Reviews A Game Of Thrones

This is Ned.  He's about to chop some dude's head off with the giant sword.

I'm a little late to the party on this one. George R.R. Martin wrote A Game of Thrones, the first volume of his Song of Ice and Fire series, in 1996. And I may never have picked it up if not for HBO and the buzz around its new series based on the book. HBO, consequently, has been putting just about every other network to shame with its offerings. Word on the street is that they picked up Thrones for a second season AND greenlit another series based on Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad, easily my favorite book of the last year or so. Anyway, back to A Game of Thrones.

First thing you should know about this book is that it's long. 831 pages, including an appendix. Way longer than anything the brilliant Sandra Boynton ever wrote. Man, I thought I had gotten myself into a real pickle: a giant book in a genre (fantasy) that I don't particularly care for, and it doesn't even have the courtesy to feature much, if any, rhyming. Ridiculous.

This is Daenerys.  She is about to eat that horse's heart.  Seriously.

But then I started it. And guess what? This ain't J.R.R. Tolkien or one of his legion of copycats. This book is slick. Martin plunges you into a world where summers can last for years and winters even longer. There is a vague hint of the supernatural/magical, but it all takes a backseat to the characters. And man, are there a lot of characters! It took me about 50 or 60 pages to orient myself, but from there I tore through the rest of the book.

Here's the plot in a nutshell (courtesy of Publishers Weekly):

In a world where the coming winter can last decades, kings and queens, knights and renegades struggle for control of a throne. Some fight with sword and mace, others with magic and poison. Beyond the Wall to the north, meanwhile, an army of the dead prepares to march south as the warmth of summer drains from the land. When Lord Stark of Winterfell, an honest man, comes south to act as the King's chief councilor, no amount of heroism or good intentions can keep the realm under control.
Sounds kind of lame and soap opera-y, huh? Sort of like The War Of The Roses? Yeah, I guess. If The War Of The Roses had a foul-mouthed midget, wolves, and a crap-load of violence. It's hardly an original comparison, but this is more like a medieval version of The Sopranos. And you know what the best part is? Martin can write. Chapters fly by. Characters are three-dimensional, and there are no clear heroes.

Also, don't get too attached to anyone, because Martin isn't afraid to kill a character he's spent hundreds of pages developing. This is a strategy that pays off.  No one is safe, and the reader knows it.  The end result is a built-in level of suspense missing from a lot of books.  These are fully realized characters operating in a fully realized world.  

A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book OneOne of the big failings of the fantasy genre is its tropes. I can write one of these suckers with my eyes closed. A common-born boy discovers he has great power and goes off on a quest with a band of unlikely heroes to combat some dark force in a far away land or destroy some stupid artifact. SPOILER ALERT: He accomplishes his mission. Not so with A Game of Thrones. Though there are echoes of this formula, Martin is too smart to let things devolve into predictability.  Heck, he discards the idea of quests pretty quickly.  Most of the novel's action takes place after characters have reached their destinations, not during the journeys themselves.  This is one of the smartest decisions Martin makes, because nothing makes me throw fits more than having to read about characters searching for edible roots or repairing the shoes.

I award A Game of Thrones 10 out of 10 stuffed bears. Amazon Prime couldn't get A Clash of Kings, volume two of A Song of Ice and Fire, to me fast enough.  Bailey and I waited and waited and waited for the mailman.  Amazon Prime likes to make you think they get things to you right away, but it took two whole days.  But at least I made friends with the mailman.  Turns out his name is Cecil, and he has three prison tattoos.  His pet snake is named Ginger, and Cecil likes to feed her baby kittens.   

Bring me my book, Cecil!  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

An Explanation Regarding My Whereabouts For The Last Year Or So

Enjoying a much-deserved serving of yogurt with a side of
gummy bears and democracy

It's time we get back to business here at LEBSAB.  I've got some book reviews in the works for some great new stuff that will be published this coming July.  I've got opinions about the NFL lockout, the Royal Wedding of the kind of pretty girl and the balding dude, and the state of Yo Gabba Gabba! (hint: it's not good--they are focusing way too much of Toodie while characters like Brobie get pushed aside.  Oh, and whatever happened to Biz Markie's Beat Of The Day segment?).

But first, you need to know something.  I haven't spent the last year twiddling my thumbs or playing kick-the-can with Spanky and Buckwheat while this blog collected cobwebs.  No, I was on a mission.  You see, the first thing my daddy taught me was that the when the President of the United States comes knockin', you best answer regardless of your political affliations.   

And one hot July night, Barry O. came a-knockin'.

And answer I did. 

I've already been contacted by a number of media outlets to tell my tale, but I decided I owed it to you, my loyal followers, to get the story first.  After all, you've been very patient.  And I've learned that it is easier to get what you want by being patient and saying 'please' than it is by throwing fits and pulling mommy's hair.  It may not be nearly as fun, but we all must sometimes make sacrifices to get what we want.

So here it is, in slightly abridged format:


Lucy:  This better be good.

President Obama:  Lucy, this is President Obama.  I need you to report to D.C. immediately.  Your unit has been activated. 

Lucy (yawns):  Do you know what time it is, Barry?

President Obama:  8:45.

Lucy:  Yeah, well my bedtime is at 8.

President Obama:  Duty calls, young lady.  Seal Team 6 needs you. 


Lucy:  You're in luck, Mr. President.  I'm fresh out of apple juice.  Have some waiting for me when I get there.  I'll be there in a few hours.


President Obama:  I've read your file.

Lucy:  Congratulations.

President Obama (opening a manila folder and reading aloud):  Black Ops.  Special Forces.  Demolitions expert.  It says here that you've won every medal we can award.  And you're not even two yet.

Lucy (taking another pull from the juice box):  Early bloomer, I guess.

President Obama (closing the file):  You want to know what I think?

Lucy:  Not particularly.  But you're going to tell me anyway, aren't you?

President Obama (smiling):  I think that you're reckless.  I think that you play by your own rules.  I think you're undisciplined.  But Seal Team 6—they listen to you.  They respect you.  God knows why, but they do.  So here's what your country is asking of you.


President Obama:  I want you to find this man and terminate him with extreme prejudice.

Lucy (whistles):  You realize that if we're successful, you run the risk of alienating all of the pretentious academics who are your staunchest supporters?

President Obama: I do.

Lucy:  Get me on a plane to Guantanamo Bay.  I'll start there.

President Obama (smiles): Done.

Lucy: Do they have apple juice there?

President Obama: I doubt it.

Lucy:  You'll need to fix that.  It's going to be a long few months, but I'll get you an answer.

President Obama: Your country thanks you, and so do I.

Lucy: You should probably send some diapers too.


Lucy (whispering):  Looks like we'll be setting up a playdate. 



Lucy:  He's in Abottobad, Pakistan.

President Obama:  You're sure.

Lucy:  I'm sure.

President Obama:  And do I want to know how you know?

Lucy (shrugging): Your call.

President Obama:  I trust you didn't use any … enhanced interrogation techniques.

Lucy:  You'll have to be a little more specific.

President Obama:  Some people call it waterboarding.

Lucy:  Well, I call it giving terrorists a bath.

President Obama (furious):  You're a loose cannon, kid!  I want you out of my sight.

Lucy:  With all due respect, Mr. President, #$%* that.  Seal Team 6 is manned exclusively by loose cannons.  If you want Bin Laden, I'm the only one who can give him to you.

President Obama:  If we do this, we do it smart.  We need confirmation.  We need to do know for sure.  It could take months.

Lucy:  I've got the time if you've got the apple juice.

And I guess you know the rest of the story if you've been paying attention to the news lately.  If not, I think this gentleman sums up the final result of the operation nicely:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Enough already! I'll make a blog post!

Some of you people are relentless.  I've been fielding calls the last two months or so, and I'm sick of your pleas.  I'm sick of your whining.  I'm sick of your idle threats (frankly, I expected more from the IRS).  So I'm capitulating.  I'm back.  For a little while.

The questions I've been getting have been neither varied nor sundry.  It's like listening to a broken record with you people.  I can boil them down to the following:

1)  Lucy, what have you been doing?

2)  Lucy, when are you going to post a blog entry again?

Well, my answer to number 1 is classified, and I'm guessing you don't have proper security clearance for me to divulge all the details.  Let's just say that I've been helping out the military with a top secret project that is going to revolutionize modern warfare.  In other words, it's going to make it a whole heck of a lot cooler.   

I really can't say any more.

No really.  Stop asking. 

A hint you say?  I can't give you a hint.  That would make me a traitor.  I would be no better than Benedict Arnold or Madonna. 

Well, that's very flattering of you.  I agree that I'm a pretty cute little girl - certainly cuter that your kids.  How very nice of you to publicly admit that!  I suppose I can give you a small, teensy weensy hint. 

*cough* Chainsaw Rocket Launcher *cough*

If Petraeus comes around asking, you didn't hear it from me, OK?

As for number 2, I guess you have your answer, don't you?  I'm back and will continue feeding your addiction until I get bored or distracted by some other project.  Like sitting in the sink.  I figure I'm only going to fit into one of these things for so long, so I might as well get my fill while it's still comfortable

Friday, May 14, 2010

This is humiliating.

Remember last year when mommy decided to run a half marathon in San Francisco?  Sure you do.  Well, she's at it again, but this time she'll be competing in a triathlon for Team in Training in Washington, D.C. on September 12.  That's where you run, bike, and swim.  Of course, she's helping to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society too.  In case you were wondering, they are against Leukemia and Lymphoma.  So please help support my mommy by donating!  Click HERE to give a few bucks.  Every little bit helps.

Of course, the triathlon has to be scheduled on a Notre Dame football weekend.  The Michigan game, no less!  This will make two weekends in a row that I will be forced to not watch the game on my awesome 73 inch TV.

Sometimes I swear that mommy is off her rocker.

But then mommy said "Lucy, I know you're disappointed about not being able to watch the Fighting Irish curb-stomp the Michigan Skunk-Weasels from the comfort of your own home.  But guess what!"

"What?" I said, refusing to look her in her traitorous face.

"You can come on bike rides too!"

"GET OUT OF TOWN!"  I yelled.  I've always wanted to go on a grown-up bike!  It's on my bucket list, right after getting into a bar fight and breaking a pool cue over some random dude's back and right before visiting the Louvre. 

"And you know what else?"

"Mommy, there can't possibly be more.  This is the best news ever."

"Oh, there's more Lucy.  I got you a pretty bike helmet."

"Hold the phone," I said.  "This is America.  Helmets are for Europeans.  And I'm no European.  I take baths, for Pete's sake.  You make me!"

"Sweetie, I just want you to be safe."

So she put the helmet on me (against my will, I might add).  I feel like a real schlemiel. 

Of coures, the rides themselves are a good time.  I get to sit in my seat and enjoy the peaceful scenery while mommy does all the work.  If you want a visual, think of a rickshaw.  A nice shiny red rickshaw.  It really is a great time despite the helmet.

That is, until mommy decides to start singing "When You're Happy And You Know It."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lucy reviews ... Kick-[REDACTED]

I've run into a little problem.  See, I'm not allowed to swear, but the movie I am about to review for you has a swear word in the title.  So when I was dictating this review to daddy, I told him to go ahead and edit it as he saw fit.  I'm apologizing in advance if this causes any confusion.

To intelligently discuss Kick-[REDACTED], you have to understand how it was made, and why it is a small miracle that the film is even playing in theaters right now.  See, no studio would touch the script with a ten foot pole.  Some outright rejected it.  Others wanted to make the characters older or water down the violence.  Instead of giving in to these idiots, director Matthew Vaughn independently financed the movie outside the broken studio system.  And then sold the final product back to them once test audiences started going nuts for it. 

So what's Kick-[REDACTED] about?  It's the story of teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) and his decision to become a superhero (codename: Kick-[REDACTED]) despite the fact that he has no powers.  It's also the story of Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (played by a delightfully wacky Nicolas Cage), a ruthless crimefighting father-daughter duo out to take down a local crime boss.

There are so many things that could have gone wrong with this movie, and the fact that none of them did is a testament to Matthew Vaughn.  He knows when to ease off the campiness and have something genuinely shocking happen.  The man manages to get a good performance out of Nicolas Cage, for God's sake.  That guy's been mailing it in for years.  But in Kick-[REDACTED], he infuses Big Daddy with genuine emotional depth and a truly bizarre Adam West-like quirkiness.  How can you cheer for a guy who has essentially raised his 11 year old daughter in a way that allows her to crush a guy in giant trash compactor?  He's pretty much robbed this girl of a childhood and turned her into a relentless killing machine named Hit Girl, yet we still empathize with him. 

And then there's Kick-[REDACTED] himself--an awkward, sort of annoying teenager with some sort of deranged desire to fight crime.  It seems like he's not really that into the whole truth and justice thing--he just wants to be a superhero for the sake of being a superhero.  What kind of person does that?  A slighly unbalanced one, that's who. Yet we care about this weirdo, and we can't help but get a little bit nervous every time he puts on his gear.  In the world of Kick-[REDACTED], it's a genuine possibility that this loser is going to get the crap beat out of him and a knife in the gut.  In fact, that actually happens early on in the movie.

What's even more amazing is that this uneasiness about the well-being of Kick-[REDACTED] and Hit Girl continues throughout the WHOLE movie.  Just as you get used to the idea that Hit Girl is pretty much unstoppable, she gets into a brutal fistfight and you all of a sudden remember that she's an 11 year old girl who, without her kitana blades and guns, is not a physical match for a grown man. 

So should you see it?  Well, let me ask you this.  Are you American?  Are you a bed-wetting, politically correct namby-pamby?  If your answers to those questions are yes and no, respectively, then you should see Kick-[REDACTED].  It's unapologetically fun, and it is hard evidence that movie-making can still be fun.

Want to get a taste of what Kick-[REDACTED] is all about?  Just check out this clip featuring a nice father-daughter moment between Big Daddy and Hit Girl:


Matthew Vaughn has found himself a genuine star in Chloe Moretz.  Watching this 11 year old girl cut her way through a room full of thugs with nothing but a kitana blade is more fun than anything I've seen on screen in years. 

In fact, Hit Girl is my new hero.  I asked my daddy if I could be Hit Girl for Halloween, and he said yes.  We haven't broken the news to mommy yet.  As far as she's concerned, I'm still going as Elizabeth Lambert, a truly great soccer player for New Mexico State: