Monday, June 30, 2008

I Dream of Syzygy

1) I had a dream where someone used the word syzygy. My dream-self was trying to figure out what the word meant and came up with confluence as a synonym, which is pretty close. I was just amazed that that my subconscious pulled up such an obscure word, which I probably hadn't heard in years, and then only once or twice and was also able to come up with a relatively good synonym. Better than awake Dave could have done for sure.

2) Looking up syzygy naturally led me to this wikipedia article on english words with uncommon properties.

3) Some new photos of Isaiah from Jenny.

4) Work was fine for a Monday

5) Mango slices - I love them so

6) Walking home - nice weather, good music

7) DW - "Rise of the Cybermen" - No quote in particular, but I do like how Mickey is clearly jealous of the Doctor's affection for Rose.

8) Curried chicken for dinner

9) Also make pasta salad for future

10)These lego ambassador vignettes are totally awesome

11) Two episodes of Fabuland Housewives (11 & 12) - "How did your surveillance camera capture that flashback?"
"We don't have time for that sub-plot right now. It's on the back-burner."
"Oh this is so typical." " Typical? Getting kidnapped and used as bait for your husband is typical?" "Yes, it always happens to me. I was married to an FBI agent, after all."
"Oh, you have split personalities. Isn't that a little cliche?" "Not anymore than adultery and love triangles." "Fair enough."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lots of Fabuland Drama

1) 2 more FH - "I'm not freaking out, you're freaking out!" "I'm clearly not." "You're clearly not!"

2) AD - "Queen for a Day"
Buster: Mom is becoming a little controlling.
Michael: What tipped you off? When she locked you out on the balcony again?
Buster: That was half my fault. I thought I saw a graham cracker out there.
Michael: [to Lucille] You baited the balcony?
Lucille: Prove it.
Tobias: All right, fellas, look, I know you know nothing but a life on the street. But I’d like to offer you something that the Queen Mary gave me. The joy of the stage. So, maybe you could, uh, start jeté-ing, and stop... je-terrorizing me.

3) Took a tiny nap

4) 2 more FH episodes - "It's very important for you to recover that you shut up!"
"I have to leave too." "Why?" "Plot contrivance."
Then there was a part that made me nearly fall over laughing, where a bunch of people take apart the building where a scene is taking place to build an alternate model with those pieces. It was built up perfectly.

5) I did the dishes with a new sponge. I cleaned the stove top and counter tops with the old old sponge before throwing it away.

6) 2 more FH - "Aha! It looks like this is a case of the whore calling the harlot a slut."
"I'm the mayor. I can murder who I damn well please."

7) Pita+Hummus +Carrots

8) Talking with Mom and Dad

9) Green Beans Amandine

10) FF - "The Message"
[River unsuccessfully tries to eat a spherical treat that bobs from a string.]
River: My food is problematic.
Jayne: Girl's a mind-readin' genius, can't even figure out how to eat an ice planet.
The closing shot in this episode is very beautiful, with the snow and the music. It's more meaningful after watching the special features.

11) Stephanie showing me the way to Firefly fanfiction. I secretly hoped that she would get into Firefly just so she could find good fan fiction an send it my way. As much as I'm willing to read fan fiction, I didn't know how to go out there looking for it. Stephanie, on the other hand, has many years of experience in the matter and gave me some useful links. I haven't done a full-on search for Mal/Simon fics yet, but I made some preliminary probings.

12) AD - "Burning Love"
Lindsay: Oh, hi, Mom. I have the afternoon free.
Lucille: Really? Did “nothing” cancel?

George Michael: Hey, I thought I heard something earlier. Like a wolf drowning.

Still not a real update

DSC02497, originally uploaded by fallentomato.

But I spent a lot of today setting up my new flickr account with all of my photos from Brickworld. (In fact I sent this post from flickr.) When I catch up enough to blog about Brickworld I'll give context to some of them, but I wanted to get them all up there now so you can look through them if you want.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


1) Sleeping in!

2) These cool truck pictures from Aunt Mary Pat

3) Getting all my Brickworld photos up on flickr and starting to organize them.

4) AD - "Switch Hitter"
Michael: What do you think of when you hear the word Sudden Valley?
George Michael: Salad dressing, I think. But for some reason, I don’t want to eat it.
Michael: Right. But Paradise Gardens...
George Michael: Yeah. Okay, I can... I can see marinating a chicken in that.
5) Started reading "Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet." It doesn't quite have the magic of the first book, but it tells a good story and leaves me wanting to read the rest of that series. Too bad they're so obscure.

6) Went to see "Wall-E" with Paul and Stephanie. It was very good. But I mean, it's Pixar, what else would you expect? The later half had some annoying bits, but mostly it was just gorgeous animation and lots of humor and good storytelling. It's not the Incredibles, but it's still up there.

7) Grabbed Potbellies for late lunch/early dinner.

8) Once I got home, I got to work doing some stuff I had been meaning to do since Brickworld. So as I mentioned in those posts, one of the people I met there was Mark Larson. And one of his claims to fame is his series "The Fabuland Housewives." I've never seen "Desperate Housewives" so I can't say how much it follows the format of that, but I'm sure that it's much better. As much as it's a long soap opera/ drama about involving murder and adultery, it's mostly focused on humor. I mean considering all the characters are animal-headed people, it can't take itself too seriously. So it ends up being a bit like Clue, a mix of murder mystery and comedy, except that it's a serial. There's also a decent amount of gay characters, which I always appreciate and some of the character development is actually quite good. I recommend it.

Anyway I read through the first two episodes. Some highlights:
"What are you two talking about?" "Not adultery!"
"I'm sorry. I was busy fantasizing about you."
"Now don't be scared Gavin. Just go across the street and take a picture of that dead body."
"Perfect. So here's the plan. Lily, provide us with financial security and Hunter, provide us with emotional security."
"Oh for god's sake, that's just a picture of a cake. What's wrong with you?"
Also, pretty much every scene with Gavin is pure gold.

9) Had left over chips from the Mambo grill.

10) Cleaning up the kitchen table

11) 2 more episodes of Fabuland Housewives
"You leave her alone, Fox or I'll kill you too. I mean only. I'll kill you only. I haven't killed anyone else..."

12) In other follow-up business from Brickworld I finally went to Justin's brickshelf page and sent him an e-mail with my thoughts on his MOCs.

A Little Odyssey

Today's list is completely out of order and I'll too lazy to make it chronological.

1) So one of the things I noticed in The Onion that I got yesterday when Adam and I were looking for a way to kill an hour was a concert that was happening tonight. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is a band I stumbled upon a few years back. Their album "The Sameness of Difference" is one of my favorites. It is comprised of jazz-like covers of songs by a variety of artists, from Charles Mingus and The Beatles, to Bjork and the Falming Lips. I rarely go to see music live, I usually prefer music that I can control the volume and bass ratio on, but I figured I could make an exception for JFJO.

It was a good decision. It was cool to see them in person. They wore cloaks when they came on stage and just seeing them go crazy when they were playing difficult parts in certain songs was cool. Seeing them live made it clear the the pianist is really the heart of the band. He's incredibly talented, which I understood from hearing songs like "The Spark that Bled" but seeing it person really drove it home.

2) The best part of their set was when they played the song "Oklahoma Stomp" by Duke Ellington. I don't know what the original song is like but their version was one hell of a ride.

3) There were a couple of opener bands. One of them was called Algernon. My favorite I never heard the name for. They had the most audible lyrics and the least offensive sound. I know I must sound like an old curmudgeon, but I don't like being assaulted by bass or a mess of sound that doesn't resolve into melodies. There should be a law about performing experimental music. Like you can only do it if you've already proven you're really good. But yeah, I liked that one band. Algernon, not so much.

4) The concert was on the North Side (just down the street from my new apartment in fact) so I took the Red Line home but I had good luck and caught it quickly, so it only took about 45 minutes to get home.

5) More NNN details took shape in my head. Which ones? Who knows! I have tiny revelations all the time. They were probably about the first few episodes though. My thinking has been relatively focused on them recently.

6) Leftovers were perfect for dinner.

7) After work I bought the ticket for hte show and then took a 2.5 hour nap

8) I took the 55 home from work - it was too hot to walk

9) I got home just before the rain

10) I went with Josh to the annual NSIT picnic because there was free food and because he said he wanted to introduce me to some of the people he knew over there from when he used to work at the University. The only relevant person I talked to there, I already knew, but I did talk to a bunch of people who used to work with Josh and they told me about his personality and stuff, some of which I started to gather on my own. Still, it was pretty good free food (I got a chipwich from the ice cream cart) and gossip can be fun.

11) In the morning we were setting up our mini studio space for a mock interview and I got to sit in the chair and be the model while Renee and Josh adjusted the lighting. I enjoy being the model.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A day with Adam Dusen

1) Waking up lateish

2) I got downtown to Millennium Park a little before the time Adam and I had agreed to meet.

So I went to the nearby corner bakery cafe and used my gift card. I got a pumpkin muffin and a cinnamon crumb muffin (2 for 1) and orange juice.

3) While I waited for Adam to show up I did some sketching/storyboarding for NNN episode 1.

4) Then Adam arrived! I hadn't seen him in well over a year. It was great to see him again and hear about China and Thailand and show him around Chicago.

5) We walked around Chicago a little bit. First we went to see the big shiny bean.
Then we walked up Michigan Avenue and I spouted out all my knowledge of Chicago architecture and such within a few blocks. That's all right, we soon reached the thing I know the most about in Chicago.

6) The Lego store! I didn't buy anything for once, but I showed Adam all the cool sculptures and he appreciated them. Adam and I played with legos together for years. It was in fact our main mode of interaction for quite some time.

7) Then we had lunch at mambo grill. There were chips (way too many) and salsa and guacamole. I think I got quesadillas.

8) Adam wanted to see my apartment so we hopped on the 6 back to Hyde Park. I showed him my gigantic apartment. His favorite part was (predictably) the Star Destroyer.

9) Then we got down to the reason that Adam really wanted to come to my apartment, so we could play the new Smash Brothers. For once I beat Adam at Smash Brothers. Sure he was unfamiliar with the characters and levels and the new items and such, but it still felt nice. Then we played some wii sports. Including one tennis match of Dave and Adam vs. Adam and Dave. Then we were about to turn off the wii and I mentioned there was also a new Mario Kart out, so we took that for a spin. It was a nice hour or two of video games.

10) Then we went for a brief walk to the point. It was pretty nice out and the point is nice and naturey.

11) I checked my e-mail and just looked at the huge amount of work e-mail I didn't have to deal with and grinned.

12) Then we went downtown to Elephant and Castle to meet Stephanie for dinner. We had cider and I got steak tips and it was a good time. Now that Stephanie has finally met Adam, maybe she won't get him confused with Jeremy any more. (Although to be fair, many her old friends blend together in my head.)

13) After dinner, I walked Adam to the train station. We just missed the train and so had an hour to kill. We found The Onion nearby and read that and laughed together for a while. And then it was time for him to go. It was a nice day, but it went kind of fast. Luckily Adam will be in Chicago again in September, and he'll be able to stay around for a bit longer.

14) Getting home.

15) As I was getting ready for bed I got a call from Adam's sister saying he hadn't shown up at the train station when he was supposed to. I didn't know what to say, since I had made sure he got on the right train. It didn't help that he didn't have a cell phone that worked in this country. Later I got a text message from Adam (on his sister's cell) saying that he had gotten off at the wrong station, which is what we suspected had happened. It was nice to know that he wasn't lost forever though.

Too wonderful to write

I would have updated sooner, but I've been too busy having a wonderful life to blog about it. The Lego convention went swimmingly except that it was over too quickly. On Monday night I had dinner downtown with Tiffany and Seth. Last night I had a screenwriter's meeting and tonight I went to a vegetarian potluck dinner. And tomorrow I am taking the day off to hang out with Adam Dusen! He's in town for a couple days between Thailand and PA so I'm going to show him around Chicago. This weekend should be pretty calm thouhg, plenty of time to catch up on wonderfuls. Here are some pictures from this weekend to hold you over in the meantime.

This one is unfortunately backlit, but that's for the best, I played around with the colors so you could see me and the giant lego man better, only to discover I have a very weird look on my face. Best to keep it a mystery.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eggplant Delight

1) Finally got our server (Scorsese) to show up on that one computer. I don't even want to talk about the two weeks it spent disconnected from the server and why etc.

2) Got a call from Adam about meeting tomorrow.

3) Returned the rental car in time with no hassle

4) Got soy sauce, which I had not had when I made the fried rice yesterday. It made it much better.

5) Sam's new tw fic

6) Grape tomatoes

7) DW - "Girl in the Fireplace" - It's sad that Madame de Pompadour didn't get to go travel with the Doctor for a while. The problem with television shows is that sometimes things happen because of casting issues. Because obviously they can't just add companions willy-nilly, but that's definitely how the Doctor woud assumulate them. He also wouldn't have been so stupid as to walk out through the time window without her like that.

[Mickey and Rose are strapped to tables on the Clockwork Droids' ship]
Clockwork Droid: You are compatible.
Rose: Well, you might want to think about that. You really, really might because me and Mickey; we didn't come here alone. No, no. And trust me, you wouldn't want to mess with our designated driver.
[The Clockwork Droid snaps out a cutting tool at Rose's throat]
Rose: Ever heard of the Daleks? Remember them? They had a name for our friend. They had myths about him and a name. They called him "The. . ."
[The Doctor is heard singing and banging about]
Rose: They. . .they. . .they called him. . .
[The Doctor stumbles in; tie tied around his head, wearing sunglasses, and carrying a glass of wine]
The Doctor: [singing] I could've spread my wings and done a thou... [breaks off] Have you met the French? My God, they know how to party!
Rose: [disgusted] Oh, look at what the cat dragged in: "The Oncoming Storm."
The Doctor: You sound just like your mother.
Rose: What have you been doing? Where have you been?!
The Doctor: Well, among other things, I think I just invented the Banana Daquiri a couple of centuries early. Did you know they've never even seen a banana before? Always take a banana to a party, Rose. Bananas are good.
[to one of the Droids]
The Doctor: It's you! You're my favorite, you are, you are the best! Do you know why? 'Cause you're so thick. You're Mister Thick-Thick-Thickity-Thick Face from Thicktown, Thickania. [beat] And so's your dad.

The Doctor: Don't worry, Reinette, just a nightmare. Everyone has nightmares. Even monsters from under the bed have nightmares, don't you, monster?
Reinette: What do monsters have nightmares about?
The Doctor: Me!

Mickey: What's a horse doing on a spaceship?
The Doctor: Mickey, what's pre-revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get a little perspective!

Reinette: My dear Doctor: the path has never seemed more slow, and yet I fear I am nearing its end. Reason tells me that you and I are unlikely to meet again, but I think I shall not listen to reason. I have seen the world inside your head and know that all things are possible. Hurry though, my love: my days grow shorter now, and I am so very weak. Godspeed, my lonely angel.

8) Then I went over to Jim's place for a vegetarian potluck. I brought my (much improved) egg fried rice. There were a lot of good things. A couple things with tomatoes. A imprbable salad that had watermelon and pine nuts and somehow worked.

9) There was a tasty eggplant thingy too. Oh yeah, Theo spent the whole time working away on that in the kitchen while everyone ate everything else and so then it turned into a dessert kind of thing. I don't know if I can properly descirbe it, he had baked the eggplants with garlic and fried up some onions and then he cooked all that togetehr with maybe some other stuff and then he had some bread and you took a piece of bread and put this warm wonderful eggplant conction on it and it was absolutely delicious.

10) Then I went back to work and got stuff done to music with no distractions. One of the reasons I sometimes don't mind coming in at night, is that it's usually more enjoyable than working during the day.

11) Sent an e-mail to Jim form NetDevil about the job. Never heard back, but at least I know I tried.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Hand Emerges

1) I got a postcard from Adam in Thailand. Real mail!

2) Got a tomato basil mozzarella salad from the GSB cafeteria for lunch.

3) Leaving early (why did I leave early? your guess is as good as mine.)

4) I worked on building something for NNN Episode 1. At one point there's a hand that comes out of a field and grabs a soccer ball. I built the hand and worked out a little bit how the field would sink around it as the hand formed.

5) Groceries

6) Fried rice

7) Sam linked this article that I found interesting.

8) Screenwriters Circle - Theo had a couple pieces he was going to shoot in the following two weeks that we read. One of them was Dr. Sympathy. I read the titular character and really enjoyed doing so. Theo seemed to be pleased with my performance as he later asked me to play Dr. Sympathy. More on that when it happens.

9) Screenwriters Circle - We also read through some of my stuff. In this case it was the beginning of the first NNN movie: Greenbeard's Gambit. It tells the story of how Phil and Sherry met and formed NNN. It's very rough and just beginning now. But it had been a while since I looked at it and was nice to remember what was good/funny in it. Sometimes I suprise myself.

10) When I was building the hand and figuring out the field animation I thought to myself, "Man, it would be great if there was some sort of computer program where I could map stuff out in 3d so I could figure out some of this lego animation stuff without actually having to build it." Then I remembered that LDD is exactly what I want and I remade the hand and the hole animation digitally. It was very fast.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Great Catchup of July 2008 Begins

Because I want to get caught up, I'm going to make these pretty bare bones, unless I actually have a story for a wonderful I probably won't even make it a full sentence.

1) Sleeping in 

2) Slow day at work

3) Got a message from Jessie Nixon. I hadn't heard from her in ages.

4) Umart for lunch

5) Renee was more than happy to let me take Thursday off even though I had just taken a couple days off.

6) I took advantage of the fact that I still had a car for a couple days and drove to Target. I got socks and a pack of white t-shirts and a rug for my living room.

7) Then I also went to Trader Joe's, where I bought, no joke, 6 packs of mango slices. 3 of the sweetened kind and 3 of the fruit leathery kind.

8) I met up with Tiffany and Seth downtown and we went to the Rock Bottom Brewery for a late dinner. 

9) I had chips and fish and Chicago Gold (beer).

10) Being out of hyde park on a week night

11) Sam's torchwood fic

12) I put the new carpet in to place. I think it looks really nice. I don't have any pictures on this laptop (I'm typing this in PA). But you can see it in the picture I posted before the lego party. It's colorful, but still relatively demure. 

BRICKWORLD DAY 4: The Final Brick

1) Unlike yesterday, where I didn't get to spend any time at the table where my laptop was set up, today I spent the whole morning sitting there and answering one question over and over again. And what was that question? "How long did this take you?" (Which is why I've decided for every animation I do from now on I'm going to keep a log of all the animation time so I can give people a precise answer.) It wasn't the only thing people said, but it was the question, as it has always been. Still, it was nice to be set up and not constantly on the move and just watch the convention crowd pass by.

2) It was nice to watch people's reactions and hand out slips with my youtube website on it. I got very familiar with "Street Spirit" and "The Legend of Zelda: Underworld Pressure Cooker" and I think the BrickArms people next to them probably were sick of them by the end of the weekend, but that's their problem. There are worse songs to hear over and over again.

Steve Gerling and Jim and Justin all stopped and watched some of my stuff and it was nice to be able to show them what I had been talking about. Steve's reactions in particular were great. He took a slip with great excitement.

3) I hadn't had a real breakfast and so I got hungry after a couple hours and went to the nearby Chipotle to get a burrito to go. I brought it back and ate it behind my table. Delicious.

4) Then I got sick of sitting around and went over to investigate Justin's display in more detail. In addition to an extensive Western Town, he also had big foam cards with a choose your own adventure story. The front of each card was the gorgeous faux box art he creates for his MOCs. I played through the story and then spent some time admiring the fine details of his set-up.

One great thing he pointed out to me is the Saloon girl's umbrella, which is more than just an umbrella.

Then we had a nice long story about storytelling and Lego. I also found out that he's a comic book artist. He's definitely a very cool guy.

5) Then I finally went and introduced myself to David Pagano, which I had been meaning to do since Thursday, but I kept getting distracted. I basically went up and said, "Hi my name's also Dave, I also make brick films." We didn't talk for long, because he was working on editing together all the clips from a little animation station he had set up for the weekend. Still, it was nice to at least to say hello and find out that he'd seen "The Franky Job."

6) I don't remember what set it off, but one of the kids watching my movies went into a laughing fit. He didn't fall over or anything, (only I do that) but it was still pretty intense. It made me happy. If I haven't ever said it directly here before, I'll take this opportunity to say that one of my favorite things in the whole world is making people laugh. I don't think that will come as a shock to anyone.

7) Then there was the closing ceremony which was rather drawn out, because they were doing lots of raffling. The coolest thing was probably the video that David Pagano had put together of all the animation clips over the weekend. It isn't up on the internet yet, but here's the same thing from last year's show. The only other thing that was exciting to me was Mark and Mikael winning best Diorama.

And then it was over! :( It didn't take long for me to break down my display and pack everything up in the ol' PT Cruiser. I said my goodbyes and then I lingered for a little bit, but everyone was busy taking stuff down or packing up their vehicles so there was no point in sticking around. I didn't want to leave, but there was nothing else to do. (However, some part of me didn't leave and even know is floating around blissfully in Lego heaven.)

8) I told Peter I'd give him a ride to Union Station since it was very much on my way back the Hyde Park and it was nice to have company. We talked about Lego of course.

9) I was worried when we approached the place where the terrible traffic had started the day before, after we got past that first major clog it cleared up and was not bad at all. Wonderful!

10) Getting home. No matter how nice the vacation, there's also a sense of relief when you finally make it back to where you started from.

11) I talked to Mom and Dad. I don't remember it very well but I probably just babbled about the convention for an hour.

12) Then I collapsed into a nap. It's one of those naps where I don't set an alarm or even think about waking up or even going to sleep. One minute I'm awake and the next I'm SleepyDave.

13) I woke up and had a voice mail from Krista about a BBQ she was having. I called to make sure it was still going on and indeed it was so I drove over there (cuz I could) and ate the some hot dogs and hte last of the delicious strawberry shortcake and watched most of hte first episode of The Wire with Seth and Tiffany and Krista.

14) I came home and put together the coffee table. Look at it's glory!

Yes, it's covered with Lego. But it's a surface in my apartment, what did you expect. Right now it's covered with sets that I'm preparing to take apart, pieces that need to be sorted and a few small creations that are newly created or in the process of being created.

That's all folks. Hopefully now that I'm returning to less photo and story intense days I can whip through a bunch and get closer to being caught up. Right now I am verging on being a month behind. Yikes!

BRICKWORLD DAY 3: Drive-A-Thon 2008

1) Got up and drove over to where Krista is living for the summer to pick her up. I put Lego Krista glove comparment handle in front of her seat so she's see her Lego-self when she go in. She was understandably excited.

2) Then we picked up Paul and Stephanie and were off to Wheeling! When we got there I went inside to set up my computer again while they stood in line waiting for tickets. Then I joined them and Paul photographed me with the giant lego man. We walked through the convention, admiring the details and the new stuff and only giving cursory glances to the stuff that had been there the previous year. Thus we got through the whole thing in just about 2 hours. Picture time!
The same great Harry Potter set-up was there and I still think my favorite part is this scene from the end of PoA. You can't tell in hte picture, but those dementors above the trees and motorized to spin around menacingly.

This gigantic space basewas also a repeat. It's like 12 feet long. I spent maybe 12 seconds looking at it this year.

Also? These giant scale replicas of the tallest buildings in the world? So last year.

This villain's club was also a repeat, but I still love it so. Evil forever!

Here's Stephanie's favorite thing from last year:

And Jurassic park was there again too.

Here's some of the cool things we saw this year. Giant castle with an active volcano in it.

This is also a replica of an actual building. It's not enormous, but it's still quite cool.

Wizard of Oz vignettes

There was also an awesome giant mosaic of Starry night which I some how forgot to photograph.

And here are some of the cool details from the larger displays.

There were Spider-Men scattered through out. There are a lot more pictures on my flickr. I also will be highlighting some more of the cool creations below and tomorrow.

3) Then we went to Potbellies for lunch. We ate outside and soaked up the sun. Paul and Krista got smoothies from a place nearby. Stephanie tried to guess the ingredients by taste.

4) Then we went to the forest preserve and did some hiking. We saw some critters along the way. Like this catepillar that was hanging out in mid-air.

And this bug that was bright metallic green! I didn't get a good picture, but look how green that blur is!

It was nice to be among the trees.

We walked for a while and then we realized that the trail we were on was not going to loop back around to the parking lot anytime soon when we got to this bridge over the highway.

So we turned around. On the way back we saw this deer from afar.

It was a nice little hike, if cut somewhat short by my ankle bothering me and Krista's desire to escape the bugs.

Then I drove them back to their houses but the traffic on 90 was so terrible it took 2.5 hours instead of 1. Gross. I don't even want to think about it.

5) So then I was faced with a decision. It was already the evening, but I had to decide whether I still wanted to drive back to Wheeling, or whether I just wanted to stay in Hyde Park that night and just go back the next morning. I had a quick "dinner" of the food I had lying around my apartment and then decided to get back on the road and go back to the convention. The decision was easy when I thought about it this way: "I could either stay here and do stuff I do all the time, or I could drive back out to where the Lego convention is happening and be with people who are at least as crazy as me in that regard." I decided I could try and crash with someone out there that night and grabbed a toothbrush and drove back.

The drive back was actually great. I bypassed the horribly backed up 90 by taking 94 up, and even though it wasn't a straight shot to Wheeling, it was much much faster than 90 would have been. The air was nice, and I was headed somewhere awesome.

6) I got back and picked up my ballot or voting on the best models. There were maybe categories each with four finalists that had been pre-selected by a panel of judges. It's really good they narrowed it down for me, I can't imagine having to figure out the best of everything without guidance. The first category I voted on was Best "Small" Building. (By small they really meant large as opposed to ENORMOUS.) Here are the 4 finalists:

I had a really hard time with this one because I liked all the buildings for different reasons. Here re some pictures showing details on each.

In the end it was the stonework of this last shot that won me over. Don't worry though, the blue building was the winner, as it deserves. I don't even know how he made it slope like that.
The only other category I photographed all the contestants for was "Best Vignette".

The coolest thing about this scene from Young Frankenstein is the curtain up top that is made from the witch's dress piece.

Mark's Fabuland Death Star Final Duel was the clear winner. Both for me and for the convention.
I finished marking my ballot and turned it in. My civic duty was now complete.

7) Then it was almost time for antoher event at the other nearby Lego Store. This one was further away and I wasn't sure where, but I found a guy who did and offered to give him and another guy a ride there and back if he would navigate. At the Lego Store I bought a 50% off Aquabase Invasion, the Joker's Ice Cream Surprise (now I had the whole Batman line form this year) and some Pick-a-Brick. The store had some cool little display cases set up along the walls with miniland scale scenes in them:

8) But the best part of going to the Lego store was actually the drive there and back. The other guy (not the navigator) I was giving a ride was Steve Gerling. Steve is an official Lego Master Builder and along the ride he talked about various cool projects he's worked on. On the way there he detailed the history and construction of the Lego Millyard Project and why that was one of his favorite projects. On the way back he talked about how he got one of the coolest jobs in the world, some of the cool software tools he uses, the pros and cons of the job, a Lego octopus that he built recently and then he talked about the busts of the Today Show hosts that he built. The prototype bust of Al Roker was on display at Brickworld:

He was very pleased with this bust and the bust of Matt Lauer, but he said that he never liked the way the Katie Couric bust turned out. He said one of the things he wants to do before he retires is remake a better bust of Katie Couric and then send it to her anonymously with a note that says "I'm sorry." Which, we noted, taken out of context would be very creepy and stalker-y and akin to a certain scene from The Godfather.

And while I was mostly just questioning him and listening in awe, he did inquire about what I did and so I talked about my movies a little bit and told him where I had my laptop set up for the next day.

He also worked on designing this Indiana Jones statue. He also designed these lego guys sitting on benches. And this article has a picture of the Today show host busts and also talks about the cool program used to help design those huge models.

9) So we returned to the hotel and there was talk of going to the bar across the street. I went to the convention hall to see who was around and planning to go. Then I saw two guys (Jay and Peter) talking fervently to the representative from NetDevil. I had been meaning to corner him and ask him all my questions about Lego Universe, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. So I went and joined in on their conversation.

I had many worries about Lego Universe, but Jim basically put them all to rest and made me incredibly excited about the game. Jim is a long time AFOL who is very familiar with the fan community and had been to many Lego conventions before it was part of his job to do so. The mere fact that he's part of the team making this game was very reassuring. One of the things he did was fight to get as many different pieces into the game as possible and did so using MOCs on brickshelf to argue his case for why different pieces need to be included in the game.

It turned out Jim was planning to head to the bar as well so we took our conversation over there and continued bombarding him with questions for at least an hour. He said exactly what I was hoping to hear, that they intend the majority of the game to be user-created content and thus it will be very easy to add your own buildings, vehicles, etc. to the world. He confirmed that there will be a level creation tool, so there will be player-created dungeons etc. There will be ways to animate your creations as well. He also talked about how you can play the game however you want. There will be quests and monsters to fight if you want, but you don't have to do any of that if you don't want. Needless to say I can't wait for this game to come out.

I also talked to Jim about the hiring situation at NetDevil and he said that the job I had applied for was actually held up because of bureaucratic stuff from the Lego company. So the fact that I still hadn't heard a thing still didn't necessarily mean that I had been outright rejected. NetDevil's hands were tied and couldn't hire anyone for that position until they worked out some stuff with Lego. I asked him whether there was a way i could update my portfolio since I had rushed it, because I was worried the job would disappear and then watched it stay up on the employment pages for 3 more months.

10) After a while, more people showed up and we stopped talking about Lego Universe exclusively. In addition to Jay and Peter and Jim, Steve was there and some other guy from the Lego group who was too far away for me to interact with, and then there was Jamie, a Lego set designer and Matthew, the creative director for the play themes (Castle, Indiana Jones, Agents, Batman, Aqua Raiders etc.). While the conversation broadened from Lego Universe it still revolved around Lego. Sometimes it was just stories from their jobs, which could have happened anywhere, (some of which made me realize that working for Lego isn't entirely utopian, there are still problems and frustrations just like anywhere else), other times it was talk about particular themes or why there are so many vehicles (see the Batman and Agents lines) and so few buildings, my sorting techniques, Jim converting the NetDevil staff into AFOLs and so on and so on. It was incredible. I have so many thoughts about Lego and rarely have anyone to talk about them with, let alone anyone who works for Lego.

11) As we were leaving the bar I mentioned how I didn't want to drive home (and was in no state to anyhow) and if I could crash with someone that would be highly appreciated. It turned out that Peter was crashing with Jay anyway and the more the merrier. He lived nearby so he drove (don't worry, he had not been drinking) us to his house. We talked for a while about Legos (Jay and Peter are into Lego robotics, but we still found common themes to discuss) and college (which they are still attending) and then it was getting really late (when was the last time I was up past 3?) and I was given a couch to sleep on and very thankful for it. I was out like that.

Phew! This was a big post.