April 24, 2014

April Loot Crate Time - It's all about dragons!

I couldn't wait to get this month's Loot Crate because I saw the theme was dragons! That means Game of Thrones and Skyrim items among other goodies, and that makes me happy. The box came with a mix of toys, edibles, and a couple of products to use in your office. And yes, the shipment included an exclusive Nord figure from Symbiote Studios and Bethesda.

Look, pictures:
Here's the breakdown: Elder Scrolls exclusive Nord figure, Game of Thrones mystery mini (I got Grey Wind), Dragon Jerky, dragon shield screen cleaner, 20 sided stress dice, a D20, a dragon slayer tag
Yay loot!

Both of these figures are ridiculously cute, and I love that the Nord's helmet comes off.

Green beef jerky... I'll get past the color and eat it eventually. The packaging is clever.

As far as content, I give this box an A+. I adore Game of Thrones and even if I don't play Skyrim yet (one day I'll make time), the little figure is adorable. Most of these items will go on my shelf or my desk. You can bet I'll be putting the 20 sided stress dice to use.

The cool and tricky thing about this shipment is that most of the products are either an exclusive to Loot Crate or made by Loot Crate. That means determining retail value is harder than normal. Just guessing at values, I'd say this box is lower than normal, around $30. Still, considering the subscription is $13 (shipping takes it to just under $20), it's a fantastic value!

Sign up for Loot Crate now so you can get a box next month! You can try the service for as long as you like - a month, two months, whatever. Use discount code gwcloot for $3 off. Happy unboxing!

Full disclosure: Loot Crate box was provided free of charge for review purposes. This did not affect my opinions.

April 23, 2014

Rancho Obi-Wan Feature in Star Wars Insider!

Star Wars Insider #149, the May/June issue, is available in stores now and contains a feature article (my first) all about Rancho Obi-Wan by yours truly. Rancho Obi-Wan houses the largest private Star Wars collection in the world, but it's more than a museum - it's a place to witness history and the huge way that Star Wars has affected our culture.

I interviewed Steve Sansweet for the article and besides hearing about why Rancho Obi-Wan is important and magical, you'll also see items in his collection including five cool fan made items and  five weird food items and read quotes from James Arnold Taylor, Cat Taber, and Sam Witwer about why ROW isso meaningful. Pick it up today and let me know what you think of the article and if you end up getting a ROW membership!

April 22, 2014

Favorite quotes from Game of Thrones: Breaker of Chains

Game of Thrones has shocking moments and shocking moments. "Breaker of Chains" definitely had one of the latter. Wow. After I recovered from that scene, there was plenty of good meat to bite into even if spending so much time on the wedding in the last episode meant they had more jumping around to do. I was glad to see so many of my favorite characters in one episode.

Favorite quotes from the episode after the picture (duh, spoilers).

“I am not your enemy. Your enemy is beside you. Your enemy steals and murders your children. Your enemy has nothing for you but chains and suffering, and commands. I do not bring you commands. I bring you a choice. And I bring your enemies what they deserve." - Daenerys Targaryen

“I would like to think that if I were arranging a royal assassination, I’d plan it in such a way that I wouldn’t be standing there gawking like a fool when the king died.” - Tyrion Lannister

“When it comes to war, I fight for Dorne. When it comes to love, I don’t choose sides." - Oberyn Martell

“How can a man not keep ale in his home?” - The Hound

“The world is overflowing with horrible things, but they’re all a tray of cakes next to death.” - Olenna Tyrell

“Your father lacks an appreciation of the finer points of bad behavior.” - Davos

“Money buys a man silence for a time. A bolt in the heart buys it forever." - Littlefinger

"How many Starks have they got to behead before you figure it out?” - The Hound

Random thoughts:
- Did that wink win anyone else over as far as new Daario is concerned?

- The rape. Man. If you're not familiar with the books, they changed the scene between Jaime and Cersei from what happened in the books. It was turned into rape instead of consensual sex. I disagree with the decision. Jaime isn't exactly a redeemed hero, but that does take him on a different path and I don't like it.

- Tyrion saying goodbye to Podrick was surprisingly heartbreaking. He might be one of the best people in King's Landing (Podrick, that is), and even though I knew Tyrion cared for him, that was a touching moment.

- Speaking of touching, Shireen and Davos. Something about the timing and pacing in their scene was completely riveting. I hope we get more scenes with the two of them as the season goes on.

- Arya and the Hound were a close second. I like that she's still standing against him regarding some actions. I don't believe she's capable of influencing him, but so far, it also doesn't seem to be happening the other around. Not entirely.
But, I never need to see the Hound blow a snot rocket again (yeah, there are gifs on Tumblr).

- Littlefinger claiming responsibility for Joffrey's death surprised me. I figured they'd drag out the whodunnit angle for a bit longer. And we don't exactly have all the answers - like how the crystal from the necklace got into Joffrey's drink.

- Sansa. Yipes. She's leaving one bad situation for a potentially worse one, but she didn't have much of a choice. My sympathy for her has only grown over the seasons.

April 21, 2014

Stuff I've written this week: Lumberjanes #1 review and Salem photo tour

Review: LUMBERJANES #1 - Boom! Studios has a new comic series called Lumberjanes, and it's amazing. It's about a kick-butt group of ladies at a camp and weird things happen and it's fantastic. My full review is at Nerdist!

Take a Photo Tour Through the Detailed Sets of Salem - I visited the set of WGN America's Salem a few weeks ago, and it was rather incredible. The production value on this series is serious business. I created a slideshow of my experience over on IGN.

5 Things to Look For in Salem - I also interviewed the cast, executive producer, production designer, and others for Salem and talked about what to expect from the series and the characters. It's an interesting premise.

New post at Teefury: It’s Never Been a Better Time To be a Geek

My latest post for TeeFury is all about how it's a good time to be a geek because you can find t-shirts for what feels like every possible fandom. It's kinda awesome.

Read more: It’s Never Been a Better Time To be a Geek

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
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