Crazy Contraptions

I asked Dante what I should write about next in this blog, and he said, “I’ve written from Nimbus’s point of view, and now I think you should try your hand!” I demurred, suggesting that I don’t want his blog to turn into the cat’s blog. So I asked again what I should write about, and he said, “How about my Lego crazy action contraptions book?”

So here’s a little background. Every year, Stargate has a book fair — essentially a fundraising opportunity for the school, in which Scholastic brings a bunch of merchandise into the Stargate library, and a portion of the sale proceeds go back to the school. Most of this merch is books, though there are also a variety of gimcracks, toys, and book/toy hybrids. One of these hybrids caught Dante’s eye when he visited the book fair: a book of Lego projects which included all the Legos needed to make the projects.

Well, we always like to support the book fair, and the book cost just about what we wanted to spend, so Dante is now the proud owner of Lego Crazy Action Contraptions. It’s been a hit. The text is genuinely fun and funny, the instructions are good, and the projects are pretty cool. I came home yesterday to find him excitedly buzzing about a “No-Donkey Donkey Cart” he’d made. This is essentially a platform on wheels, with a rubber band inside, wound by a long axle. You wind it up, set it down, and the wheels turn, making the cart move. He took it apart before I could get a picture of it, but here’s a video of one being assembled with the help of a cat. Next best thing. (In fact, this guy seems to have uploaded a whole bunch of videos of his cat interacting with various projects from this very book. God bless the Internet.)

The next day he’d built a “Squeezeclaw Grabber”, and I did get photo evidence of that:

Lego grabber compressed

Here it is in its compressed form

Lego grabber extended

And here it is fully extended

Hooray for Legos! We’re also having a blast with various Lego video games — these are great because they have cooperative play modes built in, so we can play together without having to take turns or compete. Plus, although there’s plenty of battling and action, the destruction feels funny rather than violent. It’s just Legos flying apart! If anybody out there has recommendations for other cooperative games aimed at the 8-12 age bracket, I’m all ears.

In other news, Dante is thrilled that Thanksgiving Break is finally here — he gets next week off school. He and Laura have decided that this week will be “Frozen Dead Turkey Guy Days”, modeled after the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival that takes place annually in a nearby mountain town. Events so far have included:

  • The Turkey Leg Toss: Throwing a plastic turkey leg at a set of targets for points.
  • Creation of Fruitants: Dante has a set of wooden fruit pieces held together with velcro, which we recombined into fruit mutants, sworn to protect and feed a world that hates & fears them
  • Targeting The Turkeys: Dante drew a turkey and a turkey leg in Google Drawings, printed them out, and set them on our living room floor. Then we took a bunch of plastic food up to the top of our skywalk (we have kind of a bridge running across our upper level, looking down on the living room shopping mall-style), and we dropped the food onto the pictures. The rules were that hitting the turkey was worth 50 points, but hitting the turkey leg incurred a -25 point penalty. (Or a 25 point penalty, if you want to be pedantic about it.) Of course, this is Dante, so the rules got more complicated after that, as they do.

Oh, and for a school assignment to write a story, he wrote a Choose Your Own Adventure story about Nimbus! His initial draft was very fun but a bit woolly, so now we’re working on tightening it up for a final draft, due after Thanksgiving. Okay, I guess that sort of counts as cat news. So now that I’ve breached the barrier anyway, here’s a video of Nimbus in our bathtub:


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