It’s a Star Wars New Years

I received the Star Wars Trilogy DVD for Christmas and watched Empire Strikes Back while in Kansas and right now we’re watching Return of the Jedi as we ring in the new year. Let’s just be thankful it’s not a Star Wars Holiday Special (shudder).

Since watching Star Wars as a little kid (I remember watching Obi-wan confront Darth Vader during A New Hope in the theater with my eyes covered) the saga has a special place in my heart. The new prequels are weak in comparison, but watching the old ones again shows their many flaws. But I still love ’em.

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Hot Chocolate for Tsunami Relief

Amid all the controversy over U.S. aid for tsunami relief, it’s encouraging to hear stories like this: an 11-year-old Seattle boy opened a hot chocolate stand and raised $255 for relief efforts in Asia. The money will be donated to the Christian relief agency World Vision.

“It’s so horrid, so terrible–such a huge loss of family. And I couldn’t do anything about it,” sixth-grader Thomas Wilson said. “Then I did this hot chocolate stand and it made me feel better.”

Is It Okay to Like Pre-Teen Music?

Smoosh (photo by Curt Doughty, is an indie band comprised of 10- and 12-year-old sisters Chloe and Asya that’s landed opening spots with Pearl Jam, Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab for Cutie. Asya plays piano and Chloe plays drums for a simple yet fresh sound that’s surprisingly mature. Some early tracks sound like kids in a rock band, but later recordings have an impressive vocal quality. Look out Ashlee Simpson.

She Like Electric by SmooshYou can nab an mp3 from their record company, listen to live radio performances, hear the NPR story or just buy the CD, She Like Electric.

The Smarmy Author

Well, as you can see from the photos, my novel came. As did my “Hello, My Name is Novelist” t-shirt, but that’s not nearly as exciting.

This is the Cafepress version of Downtown Dandelions, the more expensive edition, and it looks pretty good. I could probably nitpick about all sorts of things (I wish it didn’t have a glossy cover, I wish I had made the margins larger, I wish they hadn’t printed an odd off-center number randomally on the back cover, partially obscurring my url.), but for what it is, it looks pretty sharp. It does look like a cheaply printed book, especially if you compare it to everything else on your shelf. I won’t try to fool anyone. But considering that it’s the only copy in existence, it’s pretty cool.

I’m going to wait until the Lulu version comes before making an official announcement and recommendation as to which one people should buy. I expect the Lulu version won’t be as good, but it’s also cheaper. Maybe we’ll leave it as a toss up.

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Harry Potter Returns July 16, 2005

Every other web site is reporting it, so it seems entirely redundant, but the sixth installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be released on July 16, 2005. Unconfirmed early reports indicate that it will be slightly shorter than the mammoth 870 pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Booksellers are eagerly anticipating the release after another year of slow sales.

As recently as December 10 the prospect of a new book wasn’t looking good as author J.K. Rowling posted a message on her web site saying she had nothing “noteworthy to report, because I have been spending nearly all my time sitting in front of my computer writing, rewriting and taking the occasional break to bang my head off the desk in frustration or else rub my hands together in fiendish glee (I think the latter has happened once).”