May 19, 2008

PROJECT FIVER - Contact with New Zealand!

I'm sure most of you are familiar with PROJECT FIVER, a petition I created to get Melissa cast as an extra in THE HOBBIT. Well, Melissa and I have been going back and forth on how to break the news, but we're just going to cut to the chase.

A Production Liaison has contacted us, and they want to make Project Fiver happen in the next year or so.

To quote someone famous: "There is no emoticon for what I am feeling." Apparently your letters of support and our story have really affected them.

We did it, folks. We really did it. There is no variation on "Thank You" that would begin to express the gratitude that I owe all of you. No words can do it justice. This is something incredible that you all have helped me accomplish, that I could never hope to accomplish on my own. Melissa is just over the moon about the whole thing, it still seems like a dream.

Want to know the funny part? The first thing the guy does is apologize that they weren't in contact sooner.

SOONER? This thing has only been live for three months! This was still Phase 2 of the Project (getting a metric buttload of signatures). I figured that once we had a huge number (5000 was my ballpark figure), we would launch Phase 3 - Direct contact. By then our geek social network would likely have made contact with someone inside, who could put the petition in the right hands. And with 5000 signatures it would be taken seriously. And I had planned a timeframe of collecting this many signatures through this fall. I was considering reserving a Fan Table at DragonCon as one last push.

I expected this to take six months to lay the GROUNDWORK, and he is apologizing for waiting three months to contact us!

Apparently, I had wildly under-estimated the power of Geek Social Networking. 4200 signatures in Three Months and enough letters and emails written to convince Wingnut Films to make this a reality. The outpouring of concern is just amazing.

But this is not the end of the story. It is a beginning. PROJECT FIVER will continue. We now are on the road to the goal, and the journey has yet to be written. Filming will not begin until sometime next year. Our mission is the same: To have Melissa be a Hobbit extra in the film. We now have the company's support, but it will still be a hard road to get her there in a year. We don't know what kind of shape Melissa will be in by the time Filming starts. It will be a fight, but we will be fighting together.

Project Fiver will continue. This site will change over the next month. The Petition will be closed, and a Guestbook will be created for people to check in and send well-wishes and greetings to her. Our son, Matthew, will have this, to know how his mother lived. The Blog will continue, and we will try to use the attention we have garnered here to promote ALS Awareness and support for the ALS Association of Georgia, who has been so very good to us in our time of need.

So thank you from me, from Melissa and from our family. You have accomplished something truly incredible. Now it is our turn to rise to the challenge of it.

Stay tuned.

May 13, 2008

Evolution in 5 Minutes

Pretty awesome stuff. And the soundtrack rocks. (Nine Inch Nails from the '300' soundtrack)

May 07, 2008

Why It's Awkward Living with your In-Laws #31

After the ceiling fan in Matthew's room decided it REALLY wanted to know what gravity was and took a swan dive, we replaced all the fans in the upper rooms. Ron-In-Law chose these ones with a remote control to change the fan speed, turn on & off the lights, and dim them. Pretty cool feature: (1) Mel can change the lighting and fan in her room without asking for help, (2) the old fight about who gets out of the warm bed to turn out the light is now moot, and (3) when we tell Matthew it's Lights-Out time, with a press of a button we can ENSURE that the light doesn't come back on.

I was putting Matthew to bed last night when Brenda-In-Law handed me a fan remote, telling me that Matthew was trying to hide it under his pillow. I put it back in our room on the desk. Fast forward to 12:30 last night when we're turning in. I grab the remote off the desk and push the light button to click it off.

Nothing happened. I clicked it again, and nothing. Pointing directly at the fan and Ten more clicks and still nothing. Hmm, is this the remote from Matthew's room? I decided to look. On my way, I glance over and see that Ron & Brenda's light is on. "That's odd, they go to bed at 11 PM. Hope we didn't wake them with our talking," I think, and head over to Matthew's room.

Click Click Click Click Click Click Click Click. Weird, it doesn't work here either. Thing must be out of batteries.

*blink* Oh no.

I retraced my steps to Ron & Brenda's door, the light still on. I pushed the button one more time, and sure enough, their light goes out.

Hoping that they were already fast asleep, I quietly place the remote by their door and tiptoe back to our room where I find an identical-looking remote on the dresser.

Melissa stifles her laughter as I tell her what just happened. Ten seconds later Brenda appears groggily in a bathrobe at her door and glances over to us. "So it wasn't your remote he stole then."

"No, apparently not. Sorry."

As of this morning, all three identical remotes are labeled.

May 02, 2008

Tony Stark Done Right

Dear Sweet Holy Ghost of Stan Lee. IRON MAN has just unseated SPIDER-MAN as my favorite comic book movie. And I didn't think that could be done. While Spider Man is a milestone of Superhero movies done right, IRON MAN overtakes it in the end. And while the CG is schweeEEEEEEEET, what really makes this film is Robert Downey Jr.

I knew he was just the right pick for Tony Stark. Because Tony Stark isn't some guy who accidentally gains a superpower and has to learn to respect it: He is a man who has made something of himself, and then discovers that all he has worked for has been thwarted. He has to make the decision to change his life and become something great in order to undo his own folly. This is no easy task for an actor, because not a lot of this can be written into the script. It has to be subtext, reaction, expression, measured silences and thoughtful glances. And you completely believe that Robert Downey Jr. IS going through all this. And in the complete production, even with its comic relief moments and fight sequences and CGI robots, the gravitas of the CHARACTER rises to the top.

Craig and I caught a 9:00 showing tonight. I can't wait to see this again.

PS: The "Talk to the Repulsor" T-shirts are available from NightLight Press.

May 01, 2008

Disney Tech

I have to give credit where it is due for a moment here.

Melissa can no longer walk without someone helping her. Either I have to "drive" her by her shoulders, or she can use the roller-walker with someone behind her. This has severely limited her mobility, and she spends part of the day in our room reading stories and watching movies on the computer. We were just about to cancel our NetFlix subscription when we discovered that "PLAY NOW" option that lets you watch lots of movies and TV shows instantly on the PC. She's just finished the entire 7-year run of "Law & Order:Special Victims Unit".

We were looking for a laptop that she could use downstairs, so she could spend time where most of the family was all day. Someone from her father's job donated a laptop to us, but it was about 10 years old, and was running Windows 2000 on an old P4 processor with 500K RAM (not very good). I asked Craig (Tech Support even to Geeks) to confirm my suspicions that it would probably take more money upgrading this to specs that could handle streaming video than it would to buy a cheap one new.

Craig had a better idea. He had a spare ThinkPad laptop with decent specs, so for the cost of an OEM Copy of Windows XP, we have ourselves a REAL laptop. Then he started "Tweaking" it. Anyone who knows us knows that Melissa is an absolute Disney NUT. He asked about Melissa's favorite Disney characters, and I told him that although she has many favorites, she probably loved FIGMENT the dragon from the EPCOT park best.

Disney IconsAfter a few days of tweaking, Craig presents her with the finished laptop:
  • Instead of the standard XP loading screen, it starts with a picture of Mickey Mouse and reads "XP Disney Edition"
  • The startup sound is the "Please stand clear of the doors.." message from the Disneyworld Monorail.
  • The wallpaper changes on boot-up and every 30 minutes to one of dozens of DisneyWorld pics
  • The Icons are Disni-fied (see left) and the pointer is mickey's white glove.
  • The screensaver is a video loop that was played at the On-Site Disney hotels' TV channel. ("It's the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah... Tip For To-Day!")
    I could go on, there are dozens of little touches that made Melissa smile, and I'm thankful for each and every one. He delivered it and set it up on our wireless network. He pre-installed all Melissa's applications, and imported her bookmarks. Everything a Tech would do for a CEO, and so much more. So Craig, Thank you so very much. Melissa loves it, and will think of you whenever she uses it.
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