April 18, 2014

Finding an image source - it's not that hard

In any profession, you're going to find lazy people and it's absolutely true of bloggers. So many times I see bloggers skimping on research, misspelling words, or using emoticons in what are supposed to be professional posts. We all miss stuff from time to time, but when I see sites or Facebook pages continually pulling images from the web without taking time to search for the source, I get unreasonably annoyed - mainly because it takes almost no time to run a Google search and weed out the original post.

One of the regular offenders for not giving credit for images is the Facebook page The Doctor Who Hub (formerly known as Doctor Who and the Tardis by Craig Hurle). Not too long ago, the page shared a photo of an awesome sonic screwdriver box and made it sound like it was too hard to find where it came from:
I right clicked on the image and chose "Search Google for this image" and discovered the initial post by RPF user 00failure in less than two minutes. I commented on the page to point out where the image came from, and I was surprised and kind of saddened to see that none of the other commenters (and there were many) seemed to care. It made me wonder if people realize how easy it can be to trace a picture back to its source.

The Google search is almost always the solution. It can get tricky if the search only returns results from Tumblr because Google often links to the general Tumblr account rather than a specific post, but if you search the Tumblr account or look at the archives, you can typically find the beginning of the trail before it was reblogged. The more widespread the image, the harder it is, but more often than not, I can track down the source and credit it.

Memes are the hardest to pinpoint, but again, not impossible. Sure, playing detective takes a little more time, but it's only fair to give credit (and link to it) whenever you can. Because really, it's not that hard.

April 17, 2014

Typography Geek Art Spells Out Images

Attending conventions means finding new artists and illustrations, and I often come home with a stack of business cards for creators. I get comfy with my laptop and a beverage and look through DeviantArt accounts and Etsy shops and Tumblrs and see who I need to follow and keep on my list. I came across Scott W. Smith's work at MegaCon in Orlando (I think), and though he has some cool minimalist character posters, his typography art is what made me do a double take.

He takes quotes from franchises like Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars and turns the letters and words into striking prints. They're like the fanciest word clouds ever. He not only creates symbols with the quotes, he includes characters, too. Here are a few of my favorite designs:

You can buy Smith's prints from Skahfee Studios. They're 11" x 17" and $30. Yes, they would make great gifts.

April 16, 2014

Make Tea Time More Magical With These Charming Hogwarts Tea Sets

Even though I wouldn't want to give up my morning coffee for anything, I still appreciate tea. Coffee jolts me awake and helps me start my day, but tea is a cozy and soothing hug. I enjoy the ritual of boiling water, adding just the right amount of loose leaf tea to my pot, and putting a tiny dot of honey in my cup. On a crazy day or when I'm feeling sick, it's just what I need. If the tea has a geeky name or my mug features Han Solo, all the better. That's why I think these hand-painted Hogwarts sets are to avada kedavra for.

Etsy seller Ophelia's Gypsy Caravan paints each piece by hand and uses various sources for the mugs, cups, and saucers in each set. She often adds the imagery and words from Harry Potter onto antique or vintage items which means all the sets are slightly different from each other. I adore her intepretations of the house crests and the sort of rustic look added by her handwriting. Here are a few examples of the Hogwarts sets:

Does this make anyone else want to host a costumed tea party?

Treat yourself over at Ophelia's Gypsy Caravan.

h/t Pinterest

Not One, But Two Transforming Elsa Costumes

It's been at least two days since I've posted about Frozen, and you know what that means - more Frozen! Cosplayers are apparently going to keep coming up with new ways to impress me. Remember when I posted about the Photoshopped version of an Elsa transformation costume? Well, Inside the Magic pointed out that two cosplayers who participated in the cosplay contest at MegaCon created transforming Elsa costumes. Like, they pulled off the coronation gown on stage to reveal the shimmering blue dress underneath. Look:

Transforming Elsa #1

Transforming Elsa #2

I'm impressed that there were two of them, and that they approached the same concept in different ways. Cosplayers really are the best.

Photos by Ricky Brigante.

April 15, 2014

Review: Hot Toys The Wolverine From Sideshow Collectibles

When Wolverine shows up on your doorstep, you treat him like a king - even when he's in toy form. Hot Toys' The Wolverine deserves it, too. The sixth scale figure from Sideshow Collectibles is a miniature version of Hugh Jackman from the tips of his adamantium claws to the carefully sculpted hair. Though I'm often impressed with figures from Hot Toys, Wolverine is extra awesome to me because his joints popped into place so easily - I didn't have to pull and push so hard that I worried about permanently breaking him. This Logan doesn't magically heal from injuries.

It all starts with the packaging, and it didn't disappoint:

Packaging: Wolverine arrived in a box that resembled one of the movie posters for the film, and he was securely packaged inside. What I particularly like about the way Hot Toys packages toys is that the pieces are safe, but they're not impossible to get out. I don't get frustrated trying to remove extra-sticky pieces of tape or trying to push things out of plastic. It's a simple process, and actually, it's fun. It's like a weird form of stress relief because I like seeing that every piece has a place.

Sculpt/likeness/paint: As I touched on previously, this statue is more or less a miniature Wolverine.  The likeness is super close and only misses being an exact match by just a hair. Though I know some would prefer real hair rather than plastic - and even I can't settle on what's best - I think the sculpted hair is best for Wolverine. His style is too iconic, and if they used real hair for this figure, it would require a lot of effort to get it to sit properly.

He's got plenty of muscles, as he should, and the plastic looks eerily like real skin. Like, there are veins. The texture on the arms, hands, neck, and collar bone kill me. As does the painting on the backs of the hands and the beard on his face. One of Hot Toys taglines should be: We make good stubble.

Clothes: Wolverine has quite a wardrobe. He arrived dressed in black shoes, black pants, a black belt, a tie, black blazer, black coat, and black shirt. Whew. He also has a white tank top, brown-gray pants with a belt, and brown shoes. All the items were made well enough that I'd be okay with enlarging them and putting them in my wardrobe, and for the most part, they were easy to put on and remove. I had a tricky time with the belts though. The belts are functional, so they have to be pulled through the buckle and through a pants loop. The first part was easy, but I had a hard time getting the end of the belt to tuck inside a loop on the pants. However, I've never been incredibly skilled at dressing toys and dolls - your mileage may differ.

I love the texture of the white tank top and his brown lace-up shoes (the laces are sculpted). Even though the black outfit makes Logan look quite sophisticated, I like the tank and brown pants best.

Accessories: Going through the accessories that come with Hot Toys is one of my favorite parts of unboxing the figures. In this case it was even more awesome because claws! Wolverine came with five sets of hands - three non-claws, one with adamantium claws, and one with bone claws. While they're not deadly sharp, it is possible to prick your finger with them - especially the metal ones. I found that to be rather appropriate.

Besides all the handy (ha) options, you get an engraved Japanese sword with a sheath. It's intricate and impressive.

While I haven't got the hang of posing my figures to make them look like stills from the films just yet, Wolverine is made for different positions (interpret that as you wish). The arm and leg joints are flexible and move into place without too much wrestling, and you could easily spend an afternoon arranging an epic photoshoot with Wolverine before you find his permanent place on your shelf or glass case.

Here's some of the technical information: Height: 12 inches, weight: 4 pounds, head sculpted by Lee So Young, head painted by JC Hong, costume designed by Hai Lim, accessories sculpted by Seung Min Kang, and the figure has over 30 points of articulation.

You can order The Wolverine from Sideshow Collectibles.

Full disclosure: Wolverine was provided by Sideshow Collectibles for review purposes. This did not affect my review of the product.

April 14, 2014

Stuff I've written lately: Star Wars-inspired careers and TV shows that have gone on too long

Here are a few fun articles I've written around the web this week:

Fully Operational Fandom: How Star Wars Inspires Careers - I spoke with Star Wars fans such as Grant Imahara who were inspired by the saga to pursue their careers. Hearing the kind of stories in this post make me love the Star Wars fandom even more.

It's Hard to Say Goodbye When Our Favorite TV Shows Overstay Their Welcome - You know how some TV shows go on forever and forever until they start getting crappy? I discuss that in an essay for The Mary Sue.

Why You Should Give Star Wars: The Clone Wars a Chance - Finally, it's animation month over at Blastoff Comics, so I used the opportunity to discuss the awesomeness that is Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Favorite quotes from Game of Thrones: The Lion and The Rose

Last night's Game of Thrones brought a scene I've been longing to see on screen, and it was incredibly satisfying. It was far from the only high point of the episode. While The Lion and The Rose felt a tad more disjointed than the season premiere, it was still a fine episode of television.

Favorite quotes and spoilers after the picture.

“There is only one hell, princess. The one we live in now.” - Melisandre

“You ought to try enjoying something before you die. You might find it suits you.” - Olenna Tyrell

"You lost a hand, not a stomach. Try the boar. Cersei can’t get enough of it since one killed Robert for her." - Tyrion Lannister

"No one weeps for spiders. Or whores." - Varys

“Go drink until it feels like you did the right thing.” - Bronn

"Well, everywhere have their differences. In some places, the highborn frown upon those of low birth, in other places, the rape and murder of women and children is considered distasteful. What a fortunate thing for you, former Queen Regent, that your daughter Myrcella has been sent to live in the latter sort of place." - Oberyn Martell

"War is war, but killing a man at a wedding… horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing?" - Olenna Tyrell

“A royal wedding is not an amusement. A royal wedding is history – the time has come for us to contemplate our history.” - Joffrey Baratheon

Random thoughts:
- Brienne of Tarth and Cersei. Wow. I wonder if Cersei knows Brienne has faced a bear (unsuccessfully, albeit, but still). Cersei might be wicked, but Brienne could beat her down with no trouble at all - but she wouldn't because of her honor. I'm so looking forward to more Brienne this season and specifically more Brienne and Jaime.

- The scene between Jaime and Tyrion was one of my favorites. To see Tyrion assure him when he knocks over the wine... it was touching. And I adore that he pushed him into training with Bronn because that was priceless.

- Ugh. Shae.

- Ugh. Theon. And Ramsay. I realize the hunt at the beginning of the episode is from the books (I believe) and intended to show just how perverted and crazy Ramsay is, but damn. He and Joffrey would have got along splendidly.

- Oh, Joffrey. I've been waiting and longing for the Purple Wedding and it didn't disappoint. Jack Gleeson played the hell out of that despicable creature, and the horribleness was turned up past 11 right before his death. There's so much to dislike, and even if Cersei's wails were sad, I wasn't. I rarely cheer the death of a character, but he deserved.

- Besides Joffrey's exit, the wedding was designed and produced so beautifully. From Margaery's dress to the gross dove pie (you did notice the dead doves Joffrey sliced with his sword, right?) to all the looks. I liked that Varys never smiled, the pained looks on the faces of Margaery and Olenna while Joffrey was acting like a doof, the sweet moment between Sansa and Tyrion when she fetches the dropped cup, and so many hints and expressions. It was captivating.

- Oberyn Martell. Wow. I don't know if Pedro Pascal could be better in that role. You could practically see the acid dripping off his tongue as he talked to Tywin and Cersei. I very much appreciate his don't give a crap attitude and how he gently reminded Cersei that her daughter is in a different world that doesn't play by the same rules as King's Landing.

- Tyrion is often the standout, and it was especially true last night. Peter Dinklage had several fantastic scenes and he owned every one of them. It's heartbreaking to imagine what he'll go through after Joffrey's death since Cersei singled him out as the person responsible.

Finally, for book readers only or those who don't mind being spoiled about who might have killed Joffrey, check out what one Tumblr user noticed. And then look at this.

April 11, 2014

If you've ever wanted a hobbit hole in your garden...

When I think about my dream home, it's not a mansion or a grand estate. No. I picture a comfortable, cozy hobbit hole with a warm fire, rocking chairs, and a big library. I can't imagine anything more lovely to call home, and plus, I'd have an excuse to drop quotes from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings all the time. For example, when someone comes over for the first time, I can educate them and explain how it's...

"Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole and that meant comfort."

But, if I'm not able to build my hobbit hole, I could opt for a smaller one like the people at Torii Gardens made:

Ashley Yeates of Torii spent about four months of work creaing this fully subterranean space. Though it's not gigantic, it's tricked out with a cooling system, timber interior and custom decorations, Dolby 5.1 surround sound with space for a drop-down screen and HD data projector and gaming console (!), a kitchenette area, and plenty of shelves. They made all the fittings match the setting, and it's easy to imagine Bilbo or Frodo sitting on the couch reading a book.

Here are some shots of the inside:

You can view their build diary and learn more over on Tumblr.

h/t Geek x Girls
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