Archive for February, 2013

Ghost Rider Ultimate Collection

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

GRUC

GRUC


Ghost Rider Ultimate Collection – I’ve hardly read Ghost Rider at all since the mid-seventies when the first series was in full swing (I had a friend who was an obsessive fan and collected the entire series).

This one is pretty good, although it starts off fairly slowly. That is, it starts with a bang, but also in a way that’s quite hard to follow – Ghost Rider is in Hell, he escapes with Satan, who showers the earth with 666 shards of his character, which possess that many followers (Satan is, of course, the typical cloven-hoofed beast that has jumped right out of the Ridley Scott film Legend). There are also two silly encounters with other beings from the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange and The Incredible Hulk (what is it about hero vs hero comics that makes them soooooo lame?), but then things pick up nicely when we see that Ghostie is getting good at out-thinking the ghouls, and he whittles them down to one. There’s a useless appearance of two angels, who bring themselves into this world via immaculate conception.

Some of the stories are very good, including the one drawn by Richard Corben that has Johnny Blaze in jail with a creepy kid who’s actually a senior figure in the Hell’s Angels (get it), and another tale recreated the legend of Sleepy Hollow with another headless horseman, this time a guy who replaces his own head with a flaming pumpkin (yes, so there are two flame-heads now). Ghost Rider destroys all of the bad guys, learns a little bit about his nature, and then rushes off to battle another rebel angel.

The Kane Chronicles – The Serpent’s Shadow

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

TSS

TSS


The Kane Chronicles – The Serpent’s Shadow – My son Zen has become a huge fan of Rick Riordan’s books, starting with the Percy Jackson stories that focus on Greek mythology, the ongoing Heroes of Olympus series that brings in the related Roman pantheon, and now also the separate Kane Chronicles that concludes with The Serpent’s Shadow. It’s possible that the Kane Chronicles is the less popular of Riordan’s series, as it concluded on only the third book while the other two series go on for five installments (and, indeed, Zen likes it less than the others), but I enjoyed the books, that are very cleverly told by two narrators, who offer their own unique sense of humor, and are generally very good fun.

In this one the heroes are off to battle the god of chaos Apophis, a big nasty snake who has recruited all of the evil wizards of earth to battle the Kanes and the gods, all of which will lead to the end of creation if our teenaged heroes don’t stop them in time. Carter and Sadie are growing up and have their own romance issues to deal with, and Riordan keeps things lively with lots of action, mystery, and quite good plot development. There’s also a cool subplot involving the evil magician Setne which I rather liked very much. Some corny stuff as well, like the endless series of narrow escapes that Riordan seems to good at setting up, but it’s all good, and The Serpent’s Shadow is a satisfying conclusion to a very good series for kids.

Judy Blume’s Fudge books

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

JBFS

JBFS


The Fudge series, by Judy Blume – These five books by Judy Blume are so awesome. Now that I have an 11-year-old it’s high time that I revisited these books that I loved reading as a kid, and both of us dearly loved the experience. The books are:

Tales Of A Fourth Frade Nothing
Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great
Superfudge
Fudge-a-mania
Double Fudge

Each book is a precious artifact, a treasure of written perfection, and each character lives on and on, always larger than life (how many books do you read where not even one single character is interesting?); this applies not just the main protagonists Peter and Farley Drexel “Fudge” Hatcher either, as you really find yourself caring about long-lost cousin Howie (or “the Howies” as his whole family is called – this includes another Farley Drexel Hatcher, in this case nicknamed “Mini”, and the twin girls Flora and Fauna), about newborn Tootsie, even about the hapless mynah bird Uncle Feather (great name). Oh Lord yeah!!

The first two books are not really about Fudge at all, and are the more serious ones. The first one focuses on Peter Hatcher, about his problems dealing with his little three-year-old brother and eventually the fate of his pet turtle (an infamous episode in children’s literature if there ever was one), while the second book opens the lid on the complex life of Sheila The Great, who’s not as confident as her blustery character would lead you to believe. The later three books are mainly about Fudge and are highly episodic, lacking Blume’s characteristic take on the hard issues of childhood that can be found in her other books (and which appear in mild forms in the first two in this series); these books show Fudge between the ages of five and six. Throughout the books Peter maintains the tone of a long-suffering whiny kid without much of a sense of humor, while Fudge is just plain crazy.

Blume keeps things interesting across all five books by varying the locale of each book, which helps her introduce new situations and characters. In the first book Peter and Fudge (and occasionally Sheila) are in New York City, in the second book Sheila’s family take her off to the country for the summer (and, to balance the first book, we see very little of Peter or Fudge). In the third book the family moves off to Princeton for a year; in the fourth book they are back in New York, but then baby Tootsie comes along (and so do The Howies); then, in the last book, the characters are off to Maine for the summer as Blume ingenously finds a way to unite the Hatchers and Sheila Tubman’s family in a single tale (and in more ways than one too we find out!!).

There are so many favorite episodes that I can’t really pick just one, but my son and I never get tired of shouting “bonjour stupid” at each other in honour of Uncle Feather.

Fudge rules. Riot… riot!!!!

Zen on the guitar

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Pirates of the Caribbean

Zen’s been getting better at the guitar, here’s a video of him playing the Pirates Of The Caribbean theme song on February 16th, which is called “He’s A Pirate”:

Here’s Zen playing the same song on April 13th. Note the cool lightning flashes in the background!

Godfather theme

Recorded on April 13th. Note the cool lightning strikes in the background!

Shelving!!!

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Cool – we got new shelves!!! One very large bookshelf (seven levels, if you include the top part) for Zen’s room. His old, creaking, warped bookshelf got a quick repair job and now holds his Legos. Having a dedicated Lego shelf is good for several things – display, it gets them off the floor, and it also provides a fun space for Zen to stage Star Wars battles. Yay!!!

This is where we put the new bookshelf.

This is where we put the new bookshelf.

The old bookshelf is gone...

The old bookshelf is gone...

...we've moved it over here

...we've moved it over here

Darth Vader's TIE fighter in attack formation - cool!!

Darth Vader's TIE fighter in attack formation - cool!!

Gardens By The Bay visit, CNY 2013

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

We had a great day at Gardens By The Bay today, checking out one of their two enclosed conservatories – the Cloud Forest (we’ll check out the Flower Dome another time). This one offers a look at high altitude vegetation, and naturally tons of orchids. There were also cool pitcher plants, etc. Also took a look at the Marina Barrage and the Satay By The Bay. Loved it.

Oma and Opa in the clouds...

Oma and Opa in the clouds...

Oma and branch

Oma and branch

Hangin' out at the Marina Barrage, with the city in the background.

Hangin' out at the Marina Barrage, with the city in the background.

Oma and Opa at Satay By The Bay.

Oma and Opa at Satay By The Bay.

This is what we saw when we walked in.

This is what we saw when we walked in.

Squeeze into the frame...

Squeeze into the frame...

Big space

Big space

Big space

Big space

Big space

Big space

Year Of The Schlong

Year Of The Schlong

Hey, world, look at my schlong!!

Hey, world, look at my schlong!!

Freak flower

Freak flower

Freak flower

Freak flower

Freak flower - pitcher plant

Freak flower - pitcher plant

The "lost world" at the top of the conservatory

The "lost world" at the top of the conservatory

Beautiful orchid

Beautiful orchid

Beautiful orchid

Beautiful orchid

Beautiful orchid

Beautiful orchid

Beautiful orchid

Beautiful orchid

The view from the top

The view from the top

Interesting view of Marina Bay Sands

Interesting view of Marina Bay Sands

Opa the photographer

Opa the photographer

tree fern

tree fern

The city of tomorrow

The city of tomorrow

The city of tomorrow

The city of tomorrow

weird-coloured leaf...

weird-coloured leaf...

Oh, fiddleheads!

Oh, fiddleheads!

Thank You, Oma and Opa

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

This year for Christmas I made a booklet for a little song I wrote for my parents (music and lyrics) on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. I couldn’t be there in Canada on December 22nd itself, so it became a Christmas present that I sang for them when they got here on January 7th, when we did our gift exchange.

Thank You Oma And Opa cover

Thank You Oma And Opa cover

Cover

Thank You Oma And Opa title page, with reproduction of their 1962 wedding invitation

Thank You Oma And Opa title page, with reproduction of their 1962 wedding invitation

Title page, with reproduction of mom and dad’s 1962 wedding invitation: Thank you – a song for mom and dad on their 50th wedding anniversary 22/12/2012 a song of 2

Thank You Oma And Opa page 1 and 2

Thank You Oma And Opa page 1 and 2

Verse 1 – A D A E A D A E A:
Thank you for being such a loving father
Thank you for always tending to my shelter
You were always there to help me when I wasn’t sure
We stay together and your love for me is pure

Chorus 1 – A E A E:
Father, where would we be without father
Father, I’m so glad you’re my father

Thank You Oma And Opa page 3 and 4

Thank You Oma And Opa page 3 and 4

Verse 2 – A D A E A D A E A:
Thank you for being such a loving mother
Thank you for also giving me a brother
When I was a child you fed me and you kept me warm
You always protected me and kept me far from harm

Chorus 2 – A E A E:
Mother, what would get done without mother
Mother, I’m so glad you’re my mother

Thank You Oma And Opa page 5 and 6

Thank You Oma And Opa page 5 and 6

Verse 3 – A D A E A D A E A:
Thank you for being two such loving parents
Thank you for giving us a love that has no end
We are so glad we can have you with us here today
And even when we part our love won’t go away

Chorus 3 – A E A E:
Father, I’m so glad you’re my father
Mother, I’m so glad you’re my mother

Thank You Oma And Opa page 7

Thank You Oma And Opa page 7

Endpiece:
Thank you, mom and dad, for taking care of us these many years and for giving us so much love and devotion. You have ben our anchor and we are happy for you and proud of your beautiful fifty years of tender commitment. We wish you the best for (at least) the next fifty.

Peter, Naoko and Zen

Naoko’s Song (Every Bread You Bake)

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Naoko’s Song (Every Bread You Bake) inside front cover

I put together a book for Naoko with original lyrics that I wrote; the song is to be sung to the tune of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) cover

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) cover

Cover

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) inside front cover

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) inside front cover

Title page

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) Page 1 and 2

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) Page 1 and 2

Verse 1 – A F#m D E F#m:
Every scone you make, every pie you bake
Every chocolate cake and banana shake
I’ll devour your food

Verse 2 – A F#m D E F#m:
Every fish you fry, every shepherd’s pie
Every bite I try I look in your eye
And I’m loving you

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) Page 3 and 4

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) Page 3 and 4

Bridge 1 (the “oh can’t you see, you belong to me” part) – D A B E:
Your cream pasta, and lasagna
Has me on my knees begging “feed me please!”

Verse 3 – A F#m D E F#m:
Every spring roll, I will eat it whole
Every dumpling fried every sausage tried
I’ll adore your food

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) Page 5 and 6

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) Page 5 and 6

Chorus (the “Since you’ve gone I’ve been…” part – F G F G F A:
Since you’ve gone I’ve been eating takeaway
And your month-old chili con carne
But it’s your ma po tofu I really crave
And never again to use the microwave
That fresh-baked goodness is tempting tempting meeee

Bridge 2 (the “oh can’t you see…” part again ) – D A B E:
It is so great every thing you create
Give me pretzels please and a chocolate cake

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) Page 7 and 8

Naoko's Song (Every Bread You Bake) Page 7 and 8

Verse 4 – A F#m D E F#m:
Oh your pesto is fine with a glass of wine
Your cashew chicken is so finger lickin’
I’ll have one more plate

Verse 5 – A F#m D E F#m:
Every slice of bread goes right to my head
Every apple pie sparkles in my eye
It’s the food of love