January 30, 2010

Steam Crow - Monster Commute

I am not always great about keeping up with web comics. In fact, I don't often read them daily. I sit down once every few weeks with laptop and coffee and snacks and catch up on the handful I read. Monster Commute is among the favorites. If you don't know Daniel and Dawna Davis' company Steam Crow, please just stop what you're doing and click this link. I'll wait.

Now that you have been dazzled and enchanted by Daniel's art, I recommend a few things. Really take your time to flip through his available prints. Read his web comic Monster Commute. You like the characters and the wacky world of Monstru, right? Of course you do. Well you can support them by contributing to their book drive. They have reached 66% of their goal, go buy a package and help an awesome artist self-publish a tres cool book. And get said tres cool book in the process. Options exist for every wallet, $10 and up! While you're there, I also recommend buying After Halloween or Caught Creatures. Or both. You won't regret it.

Look. You can even preview the book since Daniel just got one:

Monster Commute Traffic Novel 1 preview from Daniel Davis on Vimeo.

Can't wait to get mine!

January 28, 2010

Keychain Serenity

Though I certainly wouldn't mind having the Serenity Big Damn Replica coming out in March 2010, for now I'll be happy with this eensy keychain Serenity.  Cause really?  How could you not want a Firefly dangling from your keychain.  Non-Browncoats will ask what it is, and you can introduce Serenity to them.  Fellow fans will notice and then you can nerd out about Captain Tightpants and the crew.  You can't lose.  Pre-order yours now!

January 27, 2010

Looney Labs Games

I can't get enough of board games. I play everything from the typical to the vintage to the indie games. Back in the day, when I lived in Columbus, I couldn't wait to visit Origins in June. As if the rows of dice, collectibles, and books weren't enough to get me there, board games abounded in the aisles.  Hallways and tables throughout the convention center were scattered with game pieces, figs, and cards.

Eventually, I came across the Looney Labs booth and after a demo (or two, or three) from the Mad Lab Rabbits, I picked up a deck of Fluxx.  It was like crack in a cardboard box.  So addictive was this game that even our D&D group stopped rolling the dice and flipped cards for a few weekends instead.  And that says a lot.

Looney Labs is an independent game company founded by Andrew Looney and Kristin Looney.  Fluxx, the card game with ever changing rules, is just the beginning of the Looney Labs addiction.  It's a fine game to start with.  I mean, it did win a Mensa Mind Games Select award.  But then you might want to pick up a stack or two of pyramids and a rulebook for endless strategy gaming.  You can even time travel with a deck of Chrononauts or roleplay with a deck of Are You A Werewolf?  Now that I live with someone who doesn't love games as much as I do, I really appreciate that a few of their games can be single player too.  If you come across their stuff in a retail store, pick something up.  Any of the games will do because they are all highly creative.  Then once you're hooked, visit their website and buy more.

January 25, 2010

Nerdy Photo Monday - Batman Leaps

On Sundays, I will feature a nerdy photo that I have taken at a convention or screening, or wherever. I live in Los Angeles, and you'd be amazed at the things I stumble into sometimes.

Comic-Con 2009

Only at Comic-Con can you look out the window of your hotel and see Batman leaping off a sculpture in the front. I had a very small balcony and squished myself in the corner so I could watch. I imagine his friend was trying to get a photo with some good cape billowing action. He jumped off, looked over his friend's shoulder at the back of the camera, and ran back over to do it again. After five tries, he seemed to be satisfied with the result.

January 21, 2010

Second Life - Magicland

Magicland in Second Life

Maybe you really, really want to visit Disneyland but for some reason or another, you just can't. An aversion to crowds, distance, or cost stop you from going. Well, I discovered a cool thing recently, you can visit it virtually in Second Life.

I'm still learning my way around Second Life. I think of it as social networking with graphics. But I like to go there just to visit random places and see all the beautiful things people have designed. There are gorgeous virtual gardens and cities. While searching for locations to visit, I came across Magicland.

Spinning tea cups and carousel in Fantasyland

Magicland is an entire theme park that is both inspired by and a tribute to Walt Disney's original Disneyland. If you have a Second Life account, here is the Second Life URL. Here you will find Main Street, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland. You can walk around and explore, and my favorite part - virtually ride things like The Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise combines computer graphics with photos from the ride, and they even have a classic recorded cruise guide audio piece that plays while you ride.

The attention to details are just wonderful, and I have had a fun time exploring the park and testing out rides. If you really want to check it out, downloading Second Life is free and admission to Magicland is also free. You can make a donation in Linden dollars (Second Life money) though.

Upcoming attractions - Electrical Parade, Matterhorn bobsleds, and the Tiki Room

January 18, 2010

Constructed (or fake-real) languages rock

The week preceding Avatar's release was filled with news articles and interviews. During that week, I think I heard just as much about the Na'vi language as I did about the special effects. Which, in my opinion, is fantastic. I found it surprising though, that as reporters talked to Na'vi creator Paul Frommer, that the name J.R.R. Tolkien didn't come up. I mean, Klingon popped up a few times. But you're gonna mention Klingon without mentioning Elvish? To be fair, I didn't listen to or read all the interviews. I'm sure the reporters thought Klingon would be more recognizable. < /misplaced righteous indignation>

Anyways. The creation of a full language for the Na'vi has brought constructed languages back to the spotlight. In the realm of fantasy and sci-fi, I can't even imagine how many artificial languages have been constructed. Only a few of these, however, have been developed into full useable languages with syntax and grammar. I count Klingon (created by Marc Okrand), Elvish, and Na'vi among these. Though Na'vi doesn't have many or any fluent speakers...yet. Am I missing any other biggies?

It remains to be seen whether Na'vi will "out-Klingon Klingon" as James Cameron hopes. But it definitely seems to be on the right path. Paul Frommer expanded the language for the Avatar video game, and now it has over 1,000 words. If you were going to learn a constructed language, which one would you choose?

Constructed language resources:
Klingon Language Institute
Linguistic Resources for Tolkien's languages

Until next time:

Mára mesta

January 16, 2010

Pre-order The Guild comic!

I am dipping my toes into comic books slowly. Not because I don't enjoy them, but more because I'm worried about them taking over my bookshelves. You see, I develop addictions rather quickly. For example I really had to restrain myself from buying all the Star Wars books; I decided since there are dozens of books, the library was probably the best route. But alas, I don't know of a library for comic books.

Anyway. The Guild. I have big love for The Guild and all the work and promoting that has gone into it. I especially have a business nerd admiration for Felicia Day. The web series is taking the next natural step and issuing comics. You can pre-order issues 1 and 2 from Things from Another World. The comic will explore Codex's journey into the game. I can't wait.

Yeah, speaking of gaming. Another addiction I will probably develop.

Comic Book Resources has a great article about the comics and Felicia Day here.

*Image is the cover art for Issue 1 by Cary Nord.

January 13, 2010

Commentary! The Musical

The moment many of us have been waiting for has arrived. Commentary! The Musical is available for purchase from iTunes. Now that I've listened to it um, a lot, I can tell you it gets better every time. I pick up new bits and pieces with each listen. You can check out lyrics here. My favorites switch between Better Than Neil and Heart, Broken. I particularly enjoy this bit from Better Than Neil:



What's your favorite bit of this not so common commentary?

January 10, 2010

Spectrum Fantastic Art

Spectrum 17 Call for Entries poster, designed by Paola Rivera

Listen closely. You might hear the rushing of artists around the globe polishing their entries for the 17th edition of Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. The January 22nd deadline is approaching at lightning speed. It always surprises me how many people don't know about this fantastic (yeah, I went there) publication. I was clueless until I dated an artist that participates every year. And if you're a fan of art period, but especially fantasy, science fiction, surreal pieces? Well, you should run out or clickety-click and get any of the 16 editions that you can find.

A piece featured in Spectrum 11 by artist Tim Baker

Artists can submit as many entries as they wish with a nominal entry fee. The entries are judged by a jury of five. The books cover a lot of categories, so you'll see everything from sculptures to oil painting to surreal photo manipulations. The categories are: Advertising, Book, Comics, Concept Art, Dimensional, Editorial, Institutional, and Unpublished. The winners are announced about March. The edition is quickly published in November of the same year. I am not an expert on art competitions, but that seems like an insane and impressive turnaround.

Read lots more about the history of Spectrum here. They also have a FAQ.
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