Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Never let it be said that Ryan isn't an industrious and enthusiastic author. "The Easter egg hunt" has to be his finest work - complete with "iluschatr Ryan?.

 We had to laugh when we saw his book. It starts out with detailed drawings:

 Get's a bit less detailed:

 And then apparently he was tired of drawing eggs, and just went with circles ;-)

A finer book, however, you will never find.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the greatest book ever written makes for some of the greatest film adaptations ever filmed, some of the greatest sequels/continuations/re-imagining stories ever written... and DEFINITELY the greatest vlog series ever produced.

Yes, that's right. This will be a blog post about Jane Austen, 'Pride and Prejudice,' and my current obsession that I am so over-the-moon about, my feelings simply won't be supressed. I simply must share my enthusiasm with the world. (And I didn't even struggle that much in vain about it, either)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is Lizzie's video blog, released on youtube.  Its a modernization of Pride and Prejudice, and it is truly the most modernized modernization I've ever encountered. Basically, "Lizzie" starts making her video blogs, or vlogs as urban dictionary would tell me, as part of her masters degree. She has two sisters, Jane and Lydia, and a best friend, Charlotte Lu. Their lives are changed when one Bing Lee, his sister Caroline, and his friend, William Darcy come to town.

The story differs a bit from P&P canon as the producers attempts to modernize the story. For instance, when Mr. Collins shows up with a proposal for Lizzie, its a business proposal he makes (and one which Charlotte then accepts, of course). They have a fantastic ethnic cast, which is not something one can often say about Jane Austen stories. I love how Charlotte Lucas became Charlotte Lu, and Mr. Bingley is Bing Lee. Darcy is rich because his tech start-up, Pemerbley Digital, made him a fortune. Oh, and the evil Wickham is there, and this time he is a swim coach with some amazing shoulders and abs, and the way in which he attempts to "ruin" Lydia is such a clever contemporary take on the horrors facing silly youth today, its, genius. Pure genius, I tell you. Jane Austen would totally approve of the writers artistic license here.

And the clothes Lizzie and Jane wear, and their hairstyles... I pretty much want to buy everything they wear, and its never the same. Who needs pinterest or fashion magazines, when you have the Bennet sisters?

LBD first appeared back in April 2012, a short little five minute video on youtube. Every Monday and Thusday, a new video is released on youtube. When it first started, I was intrigued, but I wasn't on pins and needles waiting for 11am to roll around every Monday and Thursday.

And when they first made spinoff video series, like "The Lydia Bennet," on youtube, along with "Maria of the Lu" (Charlotte's sister, for the P&P newbies), I definitely wasn't sure I needed to watch them. Except that Lydia's vlog became ... incredible. She's one of my most-hated characters in literature, and yet, I like her now. I really, really like her. I was tearing up watching her loneliness and depression when her smarter sisters schooled her and ignored her. And don't even get me started on how heartbreaking it was to watch the Wickham episodes... Kudos to all the LBD folks, but especially Lydia's actress, for doing an amazing job with this character turnaround.


I'd be remiss to not also point out the spinoff series for Gigi (Gerorgiana) Darcy, Pemberly Digital. At first glance, it appears to be a company's demo videos for a new product. But all the phone calls Gigi makes, to Darcy, to his best friend Fitz, and to Wickham, all provide important information about the charcaters and the plot.

Basically, the videos are bonus features, or deleted scenes, and I've always been a sucker for deleted scenes.

And then the story got good. Really REALLY good.

So good that, well, Ashley Vincent is now my favorite Elizabeth Bennet ever, and, dare I even write this, Daniel Vincent Gordh is now my favorite Darcy, topping Eliot Cowan and the Colin Firths.

And then I started to delve into the true genius of 'Lizzie Bennet Diaries' - the interactive features, for our modern audience.You can like/follow Lizzie, William, and all the characters of facebook and twitter- where they post and interact with each other.

You can follow Jane, the fashion stylist, on pinterest and lookbook.

You can read their twitter feeds, where they totally make little inside jokes for all the fans. Like when Gigi and Fitz posted their glee after the big kiss(es!!) on Thursday (oh, it can't possibly be a spoiler... its Pride and Prejudice, after all!)... when Fitz says he can't recover from all the DIZZINESS, it's a total nod to the fans who call Lizzie and Darcy "Dizzie."

And you can look at tumblr, and yfrog, two new platforms I've never even used before. But if it means I get to see photos Gigi Darcy posted from the Lizzie-Darcy-Gigi day of sightseeing in San Francisco, well, then you know I am all over it.

There is so much I could say about LBD - the great story, the amazing actors, the sizzling chemistry between all of the actors - but the thing that truly amazes me and impresses me is how much they have made Pride and Prejudice into a story for the new digital age.

The Pemberley Digital age.

Where a Darcy comes to my town for SXSW.

Other than 'Downton Abbey,' I don't watch television anymore. Who needs to, frankly, when mastery such as the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is out there on youtube (and twitter, facebook, tumblr, yfrog, pinterest, lookbook). I suspect this is the way much of our society will head during our lifetime, so that we won't even have televisions any more.

And when you've exhausted all these fantastic sources to satiate your LBD thirst, you can check out fans' tumbler sites, where they make all sorts of wonderful gems, like this one from sociallyawkwarddarcy (along with really cool active gifs, but I couldn't figure out how to post them here #techfail).

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and apparently the LBD powers-that-be are going to end the story with Episode 100. Episode 98 (the one we've all been waiting for) aired this past Thursday.

Which means March 28 will be LBD's happily-ever-after date.


But I sure have enjoyed the ride.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

SXSW: Gaming Expo

Moving out of my comfort zone a bit this year, I took the boys down to the Gaming Expo last weekend. Its part of SXSW, and this was the boys' first introduction to this Austin tradition. (In my defense, I see enough of the SWSW crowds during the week, and I loathe going downtown over the weekends).

There were lots of things for kids at the Gaming Expo, including a sneak preview and play of the new LEGO City Undercover video game. Its an entire LEGO police video game, and that has always been one of Ryan's favorite LEGO themes. It has very cool graphics, and despite the fact that the demo was set up at the Nintendo wii U booth, I didn't realize this meant that was the only gaming platform that would release it.

But apparently it is, and since we don't have a wii U, apparently this is the one and only time Ryan will play it. :(

We had timed our visit to see a Minecraft presentation. Alex is all about Minecraft these days, and he was thrilled to hear their "Director of Fun" (official title) speak. There were hundreds of people at the Minecraft talk, and we watched her line up five various Minecraft toys on her table. Both boys were very excited. VERY excited. She said she would give them away at some point, but she didn't know how, because there were so many exciting faces there.

After her presentation was over, she opened it up to Q&A. Alex's hand shot up. After about twenty questions were asked, someone Alex was picked. He stood up, was handed the microphone, and asked, "When are you going to give away the toys?" Everyone laughed, and the Director of Fun replied, "Um, how about right now? Would you like one?" Gasps and moans from all the other children began. And Alex walked right up there, and picked his prize, a funny Steve in armor looking character.

He was over the top delirious. Ryan was jealous, and a lot of other kids couldn't believe his luck at asking such a stupid question and earning a reward for it.

 Yes, that's my son.

We looked around a bit more. Some places were child-friendly, some weren't. I couldn't find the folks promoting Beau's game and company - they were on the schedule for Sunday, so its possible they weren't out on Saturday. But I texted him a writeup of what the promo said.

And since I'm the proud big sister, here is his trailer, filmed back during his December visit around Austin at the Georgetown Quarry and down at Fischer Hall.

Connected to the Gaming Expo, NASA was around, promoting the James Webb Telescope.

Team Danger is pretty gaga for all things NASA, so this was very cool.

And hot... the boys enjoyed this heat camera demo, using ice cubes and hair dryers to cool and warm up various parts of their bodies.

We came home with all sorts of free goodies and bling, so all in all, it was a day well spent.

Plus. there were legos to play with.

And ghostbusters.

And other um, people, randomly dressed in costume.

For a while, it felt like we were at comic-con, rather than a gaming expo.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Catching Up

Just some of what we've been up to recently shall follow. I may post more later, but just in case, here are some highlights not covered by Carl in 2013.

Someone won first place at the Science Fair!! Woohoo!!

Helping pack up Bebe's house, I couldn't help but love my grandmother all over again. I mean, look at all these lace curtains...

 And three bins of rag rugs.

 And, um, a Taylor Hicks CD?! Did she even watch American Idol? And of all the winners CDs to buy, Taylor Hicks?? Not Kelly Clarkson, or Carrie Underwood, but... the Silver Fox? Oh Bebe...

 Alex and the third graders went on a field trip to the Blanton.

We freaked out when Ryan's new adult teeth started coming out, before he had even lost any of his baby teeth.

But the dentist said to wait, and sure enough, two weeks later, we had a lost tooth!

And two weeks after that, we had a second lost tooth and the third lost tooth the next day. That tooth fairy sure has been busy.

I'm always amused that our new neighbors have trucks at their house doing work practically every single day for months on end. This house was immaculate and breathtaking before they bought it, I can't imagine what they are doing ...unless they are building some sort of WWIII bunker underground. Our neighbor Jeff and I are constantly texting each other when we see the latest repair van out front. Its the little things in life.

 Alex and the Scouts made strawberry shortcake by hand, every single thing on this plate was made by Alexander the Great. Love the Scouts!

 Valentine's Day came and went. I received lovely roses at home AND work. Love you, Carl.

Never let your son peruse pinterest for Valentine's Day box ideas. He picked the Minecraft creeper, and the idea wanted me to cut out hundreds of little different shades of green squares and glue them on to the box. I don't think so!! A color print of an 8x10 creeper and we were set.

Oh, and Ryan and the first graders had Chocolate Fever Day, hence the pjs to school and the "chocolate" spots all over his face.

Alex was clever enough to start swallowing little pieces of paper clips, and then had a tummy ache. An entire morning of doctors visits worrying that his HSP was back, and xrays showed little bunches of metal twisted together. Nice, Alex. I had the job of searching though his, ahem, deposits, for the next few days and collecting five little "charms." Here's the follow-up xray showing all metal is out. Boys!!

 I broke up with my hairdresser after 18 years (longer than Carl!) and started seeing someone new.

Field trip with Ryan and the first graders to the Scottish Rite to see 'Farfalle.'

I arranged for Alex's den to have a tour of the Travis County Jail, and it pays to know people in high places. :) We got the full works, including being taken back into the cells where prisoners were.

Actually, maybe the lesser tour would have sufficed. I'm still a little stunned they took us back there.  Here we are BEHIND the barbed wire, which better be Alexander's one and only time there.

 Sleeping buddies.
 Ryan was honored to be asked to run at the Round Rock Little Races - they pick only two kids from each grade from each elementary school to compete. He loved it!

Alex was a bit perplexed he wasn't asked, but he did a good (enough) job being happy for his brother.

Go Ryan!

 Principal's Pride awards

And I just noticed that in almost every picture here, Alex is wearing his beloved Blue Angels bomber jacket. Probably because he wears it every day.

He first saw it at the gift shop in Florida this summer after we watched the Blue Angels fly. After looking at the price tag, I refused to buy it, since he would quickly out grow it, and we settled for a nice hoodie.

But the boy was not to be deterred, and was clever enough to hit up his grandmother. So my mom gave it to him for his birthday, and he has worn it over and over and over again.

Moral of the story: I should buy him expensive things at gift shops??!!


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