Monthly Archives: June 2011


I picked up this film recently at the Cincinnati Friends of the Library Sale and watched it last night. It’s a wonderful exploration of the world of the comic store nerd, with a sweet and predictable love story. It’s in Icelandic, which is a cool language, and it’s very family-friendly, so don’t worry if the kids want to make an Intelligence saving roll as they try to read along with the action as it makes friendly observations on the good stuff the nerd world has to offer.

It is absolutely NOT a big-budget spectacular. That would have ruined it, I think. The effects are special enough, and they make an appeal to the imagination in the same way a role-playing game appeals to the imagination. This is not a film for people that want everything thought out in advance for them. It’s cute, it’s quirky, and it avoids obvious stereotypes of all kinds of people. Yes, there’s a “Clueless”-type princess that has a fish-out-of-water experience, but she’s not as helpless as an American writer would have made her. As a film lover and a gamer, I appreciated the film on several levels, and can recommend it to all my gamer buddies. If you’re not a gamer, you might still like it. It’s cool like that.

“Astropia” belongs in a category of foreign movies for me that will never be on a dominant, overpowering “Top One Hundred” list. It doesn’t aspire to such heights. It wants to be a niche film, with a few great characters that get into some nifty situations. As such, it succeeds marvellously and is well worth my three bucks and ninety minutes. When I get home, my family – all of it – is going to enjoy the movie and get some great fun out of it.

Dear AP Reader…

While I can’t reveal the contents of the tests I grade as an AP Reader, I can say that every now and then, a student chooses not to answer the questions on the AP exam and instead opts to turn the exam into a sort of confessional. Sometimes, those students are rude, flighty, pompous, panicked, or given over to the drawing of hand turkeys. Every now and then, however, I get a “Dear AP Reader…” message that I really appreciate.

Such was today’s case. The poor kid apologized for why she didn’t finish the exam. She explained it was because she’d missed lots of class time. She further explained that the lost time was due to a series of tragedies in the past semester, including crises that hit close to home.

Reading the four pages of explanation moved me. She wasn’t making this stuff up, believe me. After reading it, I had to sit back a moment and reflect on my own life and count my blessings. She’d taken a huge beating, but held firm and found her way through it. I really admire how she kept holding on to life and found a way to still be positive after everything it did to her. Believe me, I know what life can do.

At the end of her explanation, she told me to treat myself to a dinner, that I’d deserved it. I want you to know that I honored that direction. I went to Campanello’s here in Cincinnati and had a fantastic Spaghetti Carbonara that has worked its way into my list of the Twenty Best Things I’ve Ever Eaten. More than that, as I waited for my food, a little boy from the table next to mine kept running around and saying “hi!” to everyone. He had blond hair and was only 17 months old, so he easily reminded me of my son, Jarom, who left this world 9 years ago. I talked with a group of people next to me, including a couple that had been together for 43 years, so that easily reminded me of Yvette, my dear wife, my best friend, and my true love. A group of kids asked me to take their picture: that easily reminded me of my three lovely children still here with me.

Sure, the food was great. But taking the advice of that student that had been through so much helped me to realize how blessed my life has been so far and how wonderful people really can be. I love my family, I love the good people of the world, and I love the positive experiences we’re able to enjoy each day, if we just allow them to happen.