My Son’s Spiderman Birthday Party

I’ve been meaning to post this for some time. My youngest son had a Spiderman birthday party last year. Knowing very little about Marvel superheroes, I felt that pulling off a good party would be a bit of a challenge for me. So I spent a lot of time online researching party favor ideas, cake ideas, etc.In the end, I was shocked how easy it was, and how little money I spent.

Was it a perfect party? No. Was my son pleased with the result? He was thrilled. Ultimately, that’s all that mattered to me.🙂



Sign greeting guests as they walked through the door


I designed a giant comic book cover in Photoshop and printed it out on our tabloid printer.

I got a little cutsie with the food signs.

doc ock olives

My children are obsessed with olives so I gave them a funny name and it cracked them up


Mary Jane’s Jello
Thank goodness for colored jello


Grabbed some water bottles at Target and put new stickers on them.
I believe the “table cloth” is just extra wrapping paper.
Spiderblue drinks are Blue Gatorade.


Red and blue popcorn courtesy of food dye

spidermsnstrawberriesThese Spidey Strawberries, on the rear plate, were much cuter before the whipped cream melted and turned the eyes into a weepy mess.

Whipped cream and chocolate syrup for the eyes.

unclebensblueberrymoviesspidermanUncle Ben’s Blueberry Muffins

I found the spiderweb muffin holders on Amazon for only about 2 dollars with other Halloween items.


Perhaps the biggest single item expense of the party. I found this Spiderman standee online for about 25 dollars. The boys kept it in their room afterwards for nearly a year.


I found the villain images online and created Wanted signs in Photoshop. These posters were scattered throughout the house. The boys still have these signs hanging proudly on their walls.

spiderman art
So the children wouldn’t become too restless after they tired of playing in the bouncy house, I set up a coloring station and told them to draw their best Spiderman art. Then, I hung the results on the wall so I’d have more decorations.
This photo was taken before most of the posters were completed.


Fun with Photoshop again


Spiderman pinata was bought at Target for about 15 dollars.


Spiderman cake purchased at VONS for about 20 dollars. Delicious, too!

Vera Wang Skating Costumes

Sometimes I write random thoughts that pop into my brain. Here are two geeky facts about me: I love figure skating and I adore compiling lists.🙂 Today I’ll blog about Vera Wang’s successful foray into figure skating fashion.

A figure skater since age six, Vera Wang dreamed of competing in the Olympics. Though Vera never earned the opportunity to compete on sport’s largest stage, she did end up at the Olympics in a different capacity. Following her retirement from figure skating, Vera worked in the fashion industry for several years. While preparing for her wedding, the style maven experienced difficulty finding a gown to her liking so she designed her own dress – and the rest is history. Now one of the world’s most coveted fashion designers, Vera still occasionally returns to her ice skating roots.

 Vera Wang

In 1991 figure skating coach Mary Scotvold asked Vera to design a costume for an Olympic hopeful student named Nancy Kerrigan. Vera balked at the request. How could she design a dress that looked elegant while also allowing a skater the physical freedom to attempt multiple triple jumps? However, the chic trailblazer eventually embraced the daunting challenge and set to work on making the impossible happen.

When Nancy Kerrigan glided onto the ice on February 21, 1992, to skate her long program at the Albertville Olympics, figure skating fashion welcomed a new masterpiece into its historic collection. While her peers wore bright dresses with loud sequins and billowy sleeves, Kerrigan’s minimalistic white bridal gown-inspired creation with formfitting sheer sleeves embodied royal sophistication. The American finished on the podium behind teammate Kristi Yamaguchi and Japan’s Midori Ito, respectively, and walked away with the lion’s share of attention. Kerrigan became an instant style icon in ladies figure skating. In the end, Wang and her muse collaborated on outfits for two Olympics and three world championships.Yeas later Wang also designed several dresses for Michelle Kwan, and although they didn’t garner the same “hysteria” that her previous creations had, they were still quite beautiful.

Here’s the dress that started it all, along with other Wang creations

Nancy Kerrigan in Vera Wang Dress 1992 Olympics
Nancy Kerrigan – 1992 Long Program

Kerrigan dress inspiration
The evening gown that inspired Kerrigan’s classic white costume

8 Feb 1993: Nancy Kerrigan (USA) with the medal she won for first place at the 1993 U.S. Figure Skat
Nancy Kerrigan – 1993 Long Program. My personal favorite.

Nancy Kerrigan – 1994 Short Program

Nancy Kerrigan – 1994 Long Program
The picture doesn’t do justice to the costume. It looked stunning on the ice, particularly from a certain distance. It repoprtedly featured 14,500 crystals and cost $13.000.

Nancy Kerrigan Vera Wang Exhibition Dress
Nancy Kerrigan – 1994 Exhibition Program
This dress was Wang’s favorite skating costume because she loved how the delicate pink crystals contrasted with the canary yellow, which signified athletic motion.

Here are some of Wang’s costumes for Michelle Kwan. Feel free to contact me if you can help me complete a listing of Wang’s designs for Kwan.

Michelle Kwan 2002 Short Program Costume
Kwan wore this beautiful blue dress with ornate gold trim for the
2002 Olympics. The skater called it her favorite costume of all time.

Michelle Kwan Bolero
In 2004 Kwan wore a Vera Wang original while skating to Bolero.

Richard Linklater Film Festival Day – Day 17 – It’s Impossible To Learn To Plow By Reading Books

Tonight we concluded our Richard Linklater Film Festival with his first feature, It’s Impossible To Learn To Plow By Reading Books. Although the 1988 film was not released commercially, it’s available on the extra features of the Slacker Blu-ray. The movie with very little dialogue captures a man’s (Linklater) ho-hum life as he travels around the country meeting friends.

Slacker Poster

Like some of Linklater’s films, It’s Impossible To Learn To Plow features little narrative. The movie was shot for 3k. According to Wikipedia, it was edited at a public access television cable station. He used thos film to help secure the 35k he needed to make Slacker and the rest is history.


Richard Linklater Film Festival Day – Day 16 – Slacker

Slacker is often referred to as the king of American independent movies. Richard Linklater wrote and directed the 1991 film about modern Boehemians dissecting life while living in Austin, Texas. Slacker doesn’t really have a plot but that’s kind of the point. it’s a collection of ideas and thoughts.

Slacker Poster

While I didn’t love Slacker, I admired it. The movie was shot with a 16mm camera for a meager $23,000. Director Kevin Smith cited it as the inspiration for making his first feature film, Clerks. Hugely influential, its often credited as the feature that spearheaded the independent film movement.

Slacker Scene

Slacker follows several Austinites around the city as they discuss various subjects ranging from Madonna’s pap smear to the JFK assassination. My favorite scenes centered on Linklater as a cab customer who wishes he’d stayed at the bus station and an elderly man who has an odd reaction to a man he finds burglarizing his home. Sadly, other scenes fell flat with me and I found the whole movie quite uneven. Still, warts and all, it’s a fascinating piece of work and worth at least one viewing for any film fan.

Favorite Quotes:

“Sorry I’m late.”
“It’s okay. Time doesn’t exist.”

“I may live badly, but at least I don’t have to work to do it.”

Final Grade: C

Richard Linklater Film Festival – Day 15 – Before Midnight

Many Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) fans dislike Before Midnight. They feel the Before trilogy’s third film turns its back on romance. Truthfully, it’s a difficult movie to sit through, but it’s also the most realistic one.


Nine years after Before Sunset ends, the now 41-year-olds are in Greece for Jesse’s writing retreat. Much has changed since we last saw the couple, and I’d be a jerk if I spoiled it. I’ll only say that their actions many years ago caused major repercussions for both of them.

Written by Richard Linklater (also its director), Hawke and Delpy, Before Midnight‘s script is biting, honest, sometimes brutal and often funny. The first act features playful banter between the duo, but underneath the teasing and flirtation, there’s an unsettling tone as an argument slowly brews. In act two, we finally witness Celine and Jesse interact with others as the two unwind with friends during dinner. The movie’s final act features a nearly 30 minute argument between the two as they hash out deep-rooted anger and resentment toward one another. The exhausting showdown is truthful, painful and wonderfully acted. Like its predecessors, Before Midnight contains a terrific ending that satisfies the audience without conforming to movie cliches.

before midnight hotel lobby

My only quibble with the film is its semi-slow midsection which goes on a little too long. Other than that, Before Midnight is another brilliant installment in the series. I’d rank it second of the three, behind Before Sunset. I keep calling the Before movies a trilogy in my write-ups but truthfully, I think we all know the truth…these characters and their story are too appealing to walk away from. I’m sure we’ll see Celine and Jesse again in eight years, and I, for one, cannot wait.

Final Grade: A-

Favorite Quotes

“What are you, a twelve-year-old girl?”

“He appears and he disappears like a sunrise or sunset, anything so ephemeral. Just like our life – we appear and we disappear and we are so important to some, but, we are just passing through.”
“Do you remember that time that you were like 35 minutes late

to pick the girls up from school and you were so stressed out because you
knew they were out there in the playground wondering what the hell
had happened to you. Okay, that is the way I feel all the time, you
know like I fucked up.”
“I feel a passive aggressive threat in everything you say. Either do

this, or I will resent you for the rest of our lives.”
“I mean you are the fucking mayor of crazy town, do you know

“Could you hold on a second? I just have to tune up the string section…”

“You know what I love about men? They still believe in magic. Little

fairies around who pick up their socks, little fairies unload the
dishwasher, little fairies sunscreen the kids.”
“Stop quizzing me, all right? It’s really fucking boring.”
“I am giving you my whole life, okay? I’ve got nothing larger to give.”

Richard Linklater Film Festival – Day 14 – Before Sunset

Before Sunset is an impressive achievement. The flawless movie perfectly captures the restlessness and anxiety of your 30s. Nine years after Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) spend a night together in Vienna and vow to reunite six months later, the couple meet once more in this sequel to Before Sunrise. Jesse is in French book store promoting a novel when Celine walks through the door. As the duo spend two hours walking around Paris, we learn if they ever met again in six months.


Not many sequels are superior to their predecessor, but Before Sunset is a rare gem that received stronger reviews than Before Sunrise, which was highly praised in its own right. Presented in real time, director Richard Linklater infuses the film’s pacing with an aching anxiousness that underscores Jesse and Celine race against time. He must catch a plane in a few hours, and the couple, along with the audience, are painfully aware that so much needs to be said in so little time.

I saw Before Sunset in its original theatrical release nine years ago. The frustrated  thirty-two year olds who long to “fix” their unsatisfying lives before their fading youth vanishes resonated deeply with me. After watching the film, I had a pit in my stomach for weeks afterward. I could relate. Boy, could I relate.


I won’t spoil the movie for anyone. I’ll only say that the film’s final moments are perfection. In fact, Before Sunset might feature my all-time favorite movie ending. From the second I walked out of the theater, I began counting the years until the next sequel…and when the  followup was released, this nerd was there on opening day. That third installment, Before Midnight, was well worth the wait. But that’s tomorrow’s post.🙂

Some random notes on Before Sunset.

Right away, it’s evident that Jesse’s cynicism has faded while Celine’s has only grown.

Julie Delpy received several awards/nominations for her performance, but Ethan Hawke was equally remarkable!

The scene where Jesse and Celine silently walk up the spiral staircase marks one of my favorite cinematic moments of all time. Linklater said it was an homage to the record store scene in Before Sunrise.

The dialogue in the cab, especially Hawke and Delpy’s delivery of their lines, makes me cry every time.

Favorite Quotes – So many!!!


“Did you show up in Vienna that December?”

“Memory is a wonderful thing, if you don’t have to deal with the past.”

“If not now, when? You want to meet here in six months with a guitar? You know, I’ll fly all they way over here, you may or may not make the metro?”

“I guess when you’re young…you just believe there will be many people with whom you’ll connect with. Later in life you realize it only happens a few times.”

“It’s not so easy for me to be all romantic. You start off that way and after you’ve been screwed over a few times…you…you…you forget about all your delusional ideas and you just take what comes into your life.”

“I was fine…until I read your fucking book! It stirred shit up, you know? It reminded me how genuinely romantic I was, how I had so much hope in things, and now it’s like, I don’t believe in anything that relates to love. I don’t feel things for people anymore. In a way, I put all my romanticism into that one night, and I was never able to feel all this again.”

“It’s not even about you anymore, it’s about that time, that moment in time that is forever gone.”

“I think that…I might have given up on the whole idea of romantic love. That I might have put it to bed that day when you weren’t there.”

“Baby, you are gonna miss that plane.”

Final Grade: A+