Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ride the Lightning

Last week we heard that Harry and the Potters would be stopping in Salt Lake City during their almost-60-city "Ride the Lightning" summer tour.  The Wife has seen them in concert three times already, but I never have, and we thought it would be fun (not to mention that there's always the possibility that they might not be touring anywhere nearby again).
For those who aren't familiar with them, they're a punk rock band created by two brothers (who both dress as and go by the stage name of Harry Potter, one of them Harry Potter Year 4 and the other Harry Potter Year 7) and a drummer who play and sing songs based on the Harry Potter stories.  The band has been together for 9 years (though they've been through about as many drummers) and played over 500 shows, have released several albums, and they apparently have quite a cult following.  You can find out more about them at the website linked above.
Rocking in a library because, well, where else?
Anyway, we almost decided not to go all the way up there, but last night at the last minute we changed our mind and headed up to catch most of their hour-long outdoor show.  Their kind of music isn't normally my thing exactly, but it was really fun!  The crowd wasn't huge, but it was very appreciative, and the weather and venue were perfect for this kind of event.
Harry Potter Year 4
Now that is one killer Gryffindor sax.
Harry Potter Year 7
Drummer du jour, Sirius Black!
Some of their songs are pretty simple or based on a single phrase of text or a random character, but they're amusing and catchy, and a lot of people were dancing and singing along.  They're a novelty band, but they are pretty talented.  Here are a few choice samples:

They were really funny and totally involved with the audience, I just kind of grinned the whole time.  There were people of all ages, including people with their small kids and people in costume, and some people who just happened to be walking or biking by and stopped to listen.   And it was free!  But we enjoyed it so much we bought a couple of t-shirts.  (I am just amazed that iPhones can take credit cards these days.  Wow.)
Most of their shows are at libraries because, again, well, where else?
This line took forever to get through.  Someone there had my same awesome shirt too.
It was just what I needed after a long day at work, and the perfect way to get even more in the spirit of things for the movie in two weeks.  (TWO WEEKS!!!)  And, if we learned anything from the concert, it is, as The Wife said, that Harry Potter love is alive and well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Middle-earth: Let's Go Back There, Shall We?

As promised, I have some exciting news to share concerning our very favorite upcoming Tolkien movies.  But first, an appropriate and relevant introduction.

A couple of months ago The Wife and I were quite excited to learn that certain theaters would be showing the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings on the big screen, one each week for three weeks, ostensibly to promote their release on Blu-ray, but also perhaps to generate even more interest in Jackon's upcoming Middle-earth work (it couldn't hurt anyway, right?)...  At first we thought they wouldn't be showing them here, which was such a bummer, but THEN we realized they would be showing them right here in our favorite Provo Towne Centre Cinemark!
So, for the last three weeks, and ending last night, The Wife and I have been quite glad to experience all three of them again, "the way they were meant to be seen," as Peter Jackson said in each of his brief introductions.  They are all still (and always) so amazing, and it was fun to see them all big and big-like again.  Can you believe the first one came out ten years ago this fall??

So then, this leads me to my exciting follow-through.  A lot of people have already seen these, but recently a few photos have been released giving us out first look at The Hobbit!  :D  And here they are (courtesy of this article):
Could this not possibly look any more like Bilbo ought to look??
It's Gandalf!  Just as he always looked!
Just a couple of Hobbits out on the town.
Um, do this not look absolutely perfect??  I admit that I had my doubts as to whether or not this movie would ever even be made, I mean the rumors were circulating for years, and Peter Jackson had a lot of issues with the script and the studio and even getting the directing gig again, but now here it is!  I'm finally just about ready to give up my final shreds of doubt and start believing that this epic movie(s) event is actually happening!  I don't even mind that they're splitting it into two movies (the titles and release dates of which have also recently been announced) and adding characters that weren't in the book, but who appeared in the subsequent trilogy.  It will be epic and historical, and it will be interesting because this book sort of has a different tone than The Lord of the Rings, but it looks like it's all going to be very consistent, which is so great.

Christmas 2012 can't come soon enough.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

American Fork Canyon 5K 2011

Time for a race report!  Several weeks ago Melody let us know about this first annual race in American Fork and although I procrastinated past the date of getting two discounts, I signed up anyway.  So, last Saturday a bunch of us were up bright and early to run a fun race for a great cause.  Julie wasn't feeling quite up to it this time, so she didn't join in, and others of our usual family running mates were out of town or otherwise occupied, but those who were present really enjoyed it.
The course was varied and interesting, starting at the high school, then with a great uphill toward the Mt. Timpanogos temple at about the first mile mark, followed by a nice downhill slope, and then down a nice shaded path that ran along a little river, leading out into the final stretch back to the high school.  Besides me, Jonny ran with the kids, and Cami and Jake ran (Jake's first, and with a great time for his first 5K), and Melody, the hardcorest of us all, was up at around 4 am to board the bus that took her and the other half-marathon runners up the canyon for their earlier start and much longer race (which you can read about here).  It sounds like such a nice course that, although the longest race I've ever done so far is a 10K, it makes me wish I had taken her up on her offer to join her for it.  I might have died though, so it's probably for the best that I held off for now.
So we had a great time, and I came in at about 21:19 (though by my count it was closer to 21 even), about 6:52/mile, which seems to be about my usual pace for the last year or so of races.  I kept a pretty good pace and didn't quite feel like I would die to keep it up, and I even managed to pass up Jonny toward the first half (because he was pushing two kids in the stroller, let it be clearly known--the only times I can outrun him, ha ha), and it seemed to me that I was pretty close to the front of the pack, though I lost track of the head of the team as soon as the half marathon runners merged with us for the last mile or so.  There were a lot of runners, so I wasn't looking to place or anything, so imagine my surprise when I checked the results sheet and learned that I was 6th place overall, and 1st in my division!  That was a pleasant discovery.  (For the record, Jonny was less than a minute behind me, kids in tow and all).  There were some discrepancies with timing on the website's posted times (19:52??  I'll take it!  New PR!), but it seems to be all sorted out now.

We all placed first in our division!  It's so nice that for now Jonny and I are a year apart so we can both win for a while.

Melody liked Cami's face better in this one so we kept it.  I think I look a little more, um, something in it too.  Jonny looks classic.
They had markers and posterboard to make motivational signage for your favorite runners, so we made one for Melody as we watched her triumphant finish to a race more than four times as long as the one we had just finished, and then for fun made one for Jonny and the little ones as they had gone back and ran alongside Melody for her final stretch.  Julia was thrilled about the posters.
It's an inside joke!  And a long-running one too.

Even though it was a new race, it was very well-attended, and it was really nicely organized.  The breakfast/treats supplied were really great, the cause was good, the atmosphere was fun, the shirts were great quality and the weather was perfect.  Maybe we'll make a tradition of this race.  It seems a little better than what Strawberry Days has become (though rumor is that race has taken a slight turn for the better since last year's disappointment).  Though, if we do run it next year, we'll surely sign up a little earlier and take advantage of all the early-registration discounts and perks, and hopefully those who were absent and missed will join in the fun next time.  Thanks for the heads-up, Melody!  Also, much thanks to Melody for the pictures.  We forgot our camera this time.
Afterward, I took some breakfast to The Wife (just a little jealous that she was able to have a little bit of a lie-in), and we celebrated the morning's victory by going to the early bird matinee of Kung Fu Panda 2 and sharing a delicious lunch at Zupas, after which we met my new goshdaughter, Keira.  That's a good morning.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pottermore? Or Potterless?...

A week or so ago we came across the teaser website for some upcoming something or other called Pottermore.  It looked like this:
Yeah, not much there, pretty nondescript.  There were a lot of rumors online about a new Harry Potter website (eh), an interactive fan community or game of some kind (blah) or more books (wishful thinking), and I was curious, but not holding my breath or anything.  I was prepared for something not terribly exciting, but still thought it could end up being pretty cool, whatever it was.  I mean, the hype was there.  There was a link to a YouTube channel just to continue the tease, which looked like this:
It was kind of cool because as time went by more and more owls would appear, but who wants to watch a YouTube countdown for a week?  So then we kind of forgot about it most of the time, and yesterday we happened to remember, and then we realized there was only one day left, and then we kind of more or less completely forgot about it again (remember the days of yore when I would have checked this kind of thing every day just to see what new owls had arrived and what breed they were and what it could all possibly mean?  And checked dozens of websites and forums and discussed every single possibility?  Yeah, those days are pretty much gone, [sort of] sad to say) until this morning when we were like, oh right, that was announced.  So, here's the lady herself with the "big news":

Yeah.  I can't help but utter a somewhat underwhelmed "meh" at this, though I'm marginally interested in the "18,000 words of additional content including background details and settings" (though of course it could just mean another fiasco of Dumbledoric proportions).

So that's that.  It could be cool, but I'm glad I wasn't expecting something incredibly amazing.  We'll see how it turns out when it debuts this fall, but until then at least we have a pretty exciting movie event to look forward to, for which we now have tickets!  Midnight show, here we come, for better or worse (is it weird that I already feel like I'm getting "too old" for those kind of late-night shenanigans?).

And anyway, nothing can overshadow the excitement of this morning's release of brand new pictures from The Hobbit.  (That's right, I said The Hobbit!!!  Stay tuned, I'll post those soon too!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Wife!

A month ago we celebrated The Wife's, erm, 21st-ish* birthday.  I did my very best to spoil her , especially after she made my own birthday so very exciting this year (if I may, I did quite deliver in the presents and surprises-throughout-the-day departments this year!).  She has blogged about it all herself on her blog, but I wanted to show some love on here too.

The festivities started with a delightful dinner, and Bombay House won the birthday girl's vote this year.  We have been more or less loving Indian food lately (probably ever since we so enjoyed having it for our anniversary in Windermere last summer), and although we always think it might be a little overpriced here, it was so delicious.
This is the before picture.  To the right are a couple of the birthday surprises -- A beloved Brontë book set!
This is the after.  NBD.
And then we headed over to the theater to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  Anyone who knows The Wife knows that she's a huge and avid fan of the movies (yes, even the second and third one, ha ha), and although she was hesitant about the direction the fourth seemed to be going, she was pretty excited it came out on her birthday.  Likewise, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a very big fan of the movies, but we watched them all in preparation for the new one, and I liked them a little better.  I think it has to do with the company with which you watch them.  Anyway, it was time for the big movie event, and we even sat in line for a few minutes:
Sorry, sweetie, no Will in this one.  At least your socks can represent.
Unfortunately it wasn't a huge hit with her, but we're thinking that she might warm to it a little more after another viewing.  I don't want to write a lengthy review, but in brief I will say:  Too much Jack acting self-aware that he was Jack, if you know what I mean, no chemistry between Jack and Angelica, Blackbeard wasn't nearly threatening enough, some of the music cues were ripped directly from the previous scores, the mythology was glossed over and the side stories seemed really irrelevant.  And then of course the multiple shameless loose ends and openings for sequel opportunities seemed kind of contrived and opportunistic.  So yes, maybe we'll like it a little better the second time around, ha ha.

A few days later we met with a bunch of kith and kin to have our biannual trip to Tucanos to make use of their two-for-one birthday coupon.  We sometimes wish there were a few more months in between our birthdays so we could spread out our Tucanos visits, but we always love it there.

So cute.
I know Leland looks kind of, um, vacant here, but Lacie makes up for it, yes?
We had three birthday girls in our group...
...So of course the wait staff had to come sing to them!
They didn't have a problem getting into the spirit of things.
They totally didn't bring a treat when we went for my birthday in March, but they made up for it this time.
It was a great time, and it was sad that Elise was Single Rider this time around, but Jeff was there in spirit, as he will probably always be when we eat at Tucanos.

Later that day we met up to eventually create the epic video recently posted (you can see it here).  Julie had wanted to make her own birthday cake.  I promise I offered to make it for her, but she really wanted to try her hand at Red Velvet Cake.  In her post she outlines how it didn't quite work out as planned, and though I had no problem eating it anyway, it did make a quite scrumptious trifle:

So after we made our amazing music video, since we hadn't brought a birthday cake as planned, our friends insisted that we had to have some kind of celebration anyway.  After all, Julie deserved a birthday cake at this sort-of-birthday party, right?  So off to Walmart we went, and after looking at a few options, the chocolate mousse cake was the one that had to be the obvious choice.
For the record, she tried the Red Velvet Cake again last week and it was picture perfect:
I also had (am still having) no problem eating this one. :D

Happy birthday, Wife!  I hope I made it magical and splendid!

* She really turned 28.  Own it, Wife!  28 was a great year for me!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Less than a month before we finally get to see the movie, and almost two months after the last trailer was released, we have another one!  Although this shows a lot of exciting new clips, I think the first one might be a little more exciting still.  (You wouldn't believe how excited we were to see it on the big screen last week when we went to see Super 8.  The Breaking Dawn, Part 1 trailer on the other hand?  *retch*)  Can you believe this might be the last new Harry Potter trailer we ever see?

So, here it is!  Enjoy!

I just love the trailers that refer to the previous movies. Such a nice feeling of continuity.  And, just for fun, here are a couple of the more recent posters revealed.

Just a few weeks left now!!!  I can't believe it's all almost over, but I'm too excited right now to be sad.  :D

Friday, June 10, 2011


Also while Elise was here I was introduced to a new favorite YouTube video...  It's funnier if you understand the context, so without giving too much away, here is the story:

So there's a newish sort of online video game called Super Press Space to Win Adventure (you can play it here, it seriously takes approximately two minutes).  It's sort of a joke, and everything its name implies, designed to be really easy and a sort of parody of the old-school pixelated graphics video games of yesterdecade.  Well, evidently someone didn't get the joke.  In his online review, the now-infamous "axman13" furiously vented his frustration at such a simple game.  This has now been recorded as a dramatic reading and paired with and epic soundtrack and genius Flash text animation.

And now, I give you...

Dot Dot Dot.

I cry every time.  It's just perfect, the rhythm, the passion, the fury.  I mean LOOK AT IT!  Many, many thanks to Elise for introducing me to this gem of the interwebs.  And, you're welcome, everyone else, for passing it along to you.

He even responded to the video!  He actually (says he) likes it!  But he's still illiterate.  There was also a brief interview included in this artic.  It's hilarious.  Oh, that kid.  He was indeed 13 at the time.

P.S. The same time this video was introduced to me, Elise also showed me this notorious little piece, which I had somehow never seen until that moment.  All I can say is wow.  And also we we we so excited.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

80Y 5K

A few weeks ago several dozen family met up at Logan for an epic surprise party for my Grandma Julie's 80th birthday.  She's an avid runner, has run almost 150 marathons in her adult life, and continues to run 5Ks and 10Ks regularly.  We will often go up to stay with her for the weekend and run a race, or she'll sometimes come down and join us for a local race.  My sisters had a brilliant idea to organize a fun, casual family 5K in her honor and for all of us to just show up and spring it on her.  Elise designed a great t-shirt, and Amber had them printed for everyone who participated.  Mom and Dad went up the night before and actually ran a morning race that had already been planned, and then on their way home they came across all of us in matching shirts and race number bibs, all ready to celebrate.  Grandma was beside herself with delight, and I was really amazed that the surprise was never spoiled.  (Mom had a hard time "lying" to her mother for so long.)
Waiting for the birthday girl.

While we were there we decided we had to have a good jumping photo shoot.  The first one is a classic Britney/Elise shot.  It's some kind of amazing or something.
We're all in this together!
I know this one is almost the same, but just LOOK at Penny!!!
Nice Ben, way to ruin the effect.
As a race, it was pretty casual, everyone went their own pace, some walked and pushed strollers, some of the kids rode scooters or bikes, and the 5K distance was approximate.  The course started at an elementary school near Grandma's house, then went to a local park and back.  It ended a little before 3.1 miles, so I went a little farther to Grandma's house (which ended up being a little longer than 3.1) and then back to the school.  My total approximate distance was 4 miles (~36:12).  Incidentally, I started to notice this sort of swelling in one of my knees after running for a couple days before and then right after this race, which kind of concerned me...  Turns out some thorough stretching and giving it a weekend off seemed to have done the trick.  When everyone made it back to the park, there was an abundance of great post-race treats for all to enjoy and everyone was a winner, though Grandma was the real champion of the day.  What an inspiration!
Here's Elise's great t-shirt design.  The main graphic was on front, and the bottom tagline was printed along the bottom left of the shirt.

This is just the Graham side, there were several more of Grandma's other kids and grandkids represented.  A great turnout!
Thanks for organizing a great race, everyone!  There was an awesome turnout and we all had a great time.  And thanks for having a birthday so we could throw you a surprise party, Grandma!  We love you so!  See you at the next race, if not hopefully sooner.