September 30, 2010

Steampunk Thursday #9 - Dr. Grordbort's Rayguns

Rayguns are a science fiction staple.  The directed-energy weapons are usually lethal and destructive.  They are perfectly suited for steampunk even though they are not powered by steam.  When you search for steampunk and raygun on the interwebs, one of the first names you'll see is Dr. Grordbort.  I encountered the name first at a booth at Comic-Con.  I could not be pryed away from the display despite the people trying to crowd in.  I ooh'ed and aah'ed and came this close to drooling on a raygun.  Who was this Doctor and why did he have beautiful steampunk rayguns?!

As it turns out, back in 2006, Weta released a line of devious disintegrators by the genius Dr. Grordbort in the form of a graphic novel.  These delicate weapons were designed by artist and concept designer Greg Broadmore.  While he was designing weaponry for District 9, he painted some of these retro-futuristic rayguns in his free time.  He happened to show them to Richard Taylor.  And it's at Weta.  I mean, by the next morning they were all probably buried in a pile of prototype rayguns.

Now, they have become collectibles.  Duh.  The fictional Dr. Grordbort keeps inventing fantastical, intricately detailed rayguns.  You can get life-sized or miniature rayguns in a plethora of models.  Broadmore has created whole backstories for the Dr. and his world.  If you visit the website linked above, you can get lost in the images, the characters, and the world Weta has created around these lovely side arms.  There is at least one other book, Victory, scheduled for release too. 

You can shop for rayguns here.  If you're looking for some design inspiration, you could do worse than picking up Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory .  Soon, I will post a tutorial on how to make necklace pendant size rayguns.

A quick note: Broadmore really doesn't consider his rayguns steampunk; he thinks of them as retro sci-fi.  But, he doesn't mind if other people do.  What do you think?

To see more Steampunk Thursday posts by myself and Mary, click here.

September 28, 2010

Good Robot Role Models?

Let's face it.  According to science fiction entertainment, humans + robots = bad, bad, BAD news.  The robots get tired of doing our bidding, we mistreat them (okay, we do that a lot in sci-fi movies), or they're just under-lubricated and cranky.  That's when the world ends in a painful fashion.  Sometimes entire galaxies go down in the fight.

None of that will stop progression towards artificial intelligence though.  And since apparently, fictional TV shows and books are not necessarily prophecies of things to come, that's for the best.  Onward and upward with technology, I say.  However.  I can't even think of a good robot role model for us to follow in fiction.

Initially, I was going to praise the world of Star Wars robots.  They don't revolt; they are not angry.  They don't hate humans.  Sure, some of them work for the bad side, but they are programmed that way.  There have been a few traitors too, but by and large, the robots work alongside humans and aliens.  But?  They're also second class citizens and slaves.  Though some of them are respected and loved, like C-3PO and R2-D2, I think they are more often looked down upon.  "We don't serve their kind here."

Help me out; my sci-fi fu is limited.  Can you think of well-treated robots that didn't end up killing lots of humans?  Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation seems to fit the bill (um, we won't discuss his evil brother Lore).

September 27, 2010

Geek Crafts: How to Make RPG Dice Earrings

You've probably seen some lovely necklaces, earrings, and rings made from roleplaying dice around the internet.  They are fun, geeky, and versatile.  You can go from very simple, or you could also add some wire work to make them a little fancier.  It's easy to get started, plus it's a good reason to buy even more dice.  We'll start with earrings.

Dice - I like to get them from Game Master Dice, they have miniature ones too!
Drill, small drill bit, and vice
2 headpins
2 ear wires
Round tip pliers
Cutting pliers

You can find all jewelry making supplies at a local craft store like JoAnn's, Michael's, or Hobby Lobby

1. Drill a hole in any dice you want to use following these instructions.  This is the way I do it, so I figure there's not much reason to just rewrite it.


2. Add your die to each headpin; you can use the same color of the same-sided die or two from one set.  For earrings, I recommend miniature dice.  If there is a lot of room left on the headpin add a bead if you have some or cut so that 1/4" remains on the headpin.

3. Make an eye loop.  With your round tip pliers, bend the remaining piece of the headpin to a 90 degree angle.  Then grasp the tip of the head pin, and curl tip up and into a curve, back to the 90 degree bend.

4. Leave a small opening to add the ear wire on.  After you have hooked the ear wire onto the open loop of the headpin, close it gently with the round tip pliers.

5. Repeat with the second earring.

And yes, they do make excellent gifts.  Just be sure to subtly ask if the recipient has any metal allergies!

September 25, 2010

Links of the week!

Here's the coolest/weirdest/insert superlative here links I clicked on this week!

The Wildlife Of Star Wars: A Field Guide - Never again get a Mynock mixed up with... another somewhat obscure creature from the Star Wars universe.  Read GeekDad's review of the book and then go to Amazon and put it on your wishlist.

Dinosaur Bones Pancake - Yeah, we all wish our parents were this cool.

Vintage Prosthetics - This list of 15 vintage prosthetics are both terrifying and cool.  Okay, more terrifying.  They are also very inspiring for some steampunk designs, hmm.

Action Flick Chick interview with Seth Green - Katrina Hill, aka Action Flick Chick, talks with Seth Green about the G33k and G4m3r Girls video and girls being geeks.

BPAL Trick or Treat - Black Phoenix Alchemy has some lovely themed scents for the Halloween holiday and a couple of great packages to check out.  Just click that link.

Nerds in Babeland Fleshwounds how-to - Speaking of Halloween, this how-to comes just in time to practice flesh wounds for your zombie or gore costume.  Great step by step with clear instructions and photos (I love when photos are included in tutorials).

25 Best and Most adorable Marvel Cats - Did you hear about the Marvel cat craze that took over Twitter?  No!  Well if you like cute and kittens and comics, you're going to squee.  I'm just warning you.  This list by Jill Pantozzi on Topless Robot gives a little background and shows off the pick of the litter.

September 23, 2010

Steampunk Thursday #8: A Corset is a Lady's Best Friend

It's Thursday, and that means it's Steampunk Thursday.  Mary has the reigns this week.  Go check out her super informative post on corsets and why you need one!.

Pink Raygun Post: Fighting Zombies with Flair

If I have to be a part of the zombie apocalypse, I want to fight - stylishly.  Alice from the Resident Evil movies has this down to an art.  She is my role model for this situation.  See what we can learn from her outfits in my new post at Pink Raygun: Fighting Zombies with Flair.

September 22, 2010

Happy Hobbit Day!

Today is the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins!  Huzzah for Hobbits everywhere!  It is a day of celebration for Lord of the Rings fans everywhere.  You can go crazy or keep it simple.  Some suggestions for making it a great Hobbit Day:

- Eat often.  Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, multiple suppers.  Try to eat six meals.
- Watch at least one of the films or take it to the next level and have an Extended Edition marathon.  If I start now (I'm on PST), I'd finish tomorrow morning.
- Drink ale from your Green Dragon pint glass and raise a toast to the Baggins!
- Pretend it's your birthday and write a Bilbo style speech and send it to your friends.
- Walk around barefoot all day.
- Read the "Concerning Hobbits" chapter in Fellowship of the Ring.
- Cook mushrooms and tater (boiled, mashed or stuck in a stew) for dinner!
- Watch Leonard Nimoy sing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins; better yet, share it with everyone you can!
- Treat yourself to this Middle Earth cookbook or look up some free recipes here.
- Pull out a pipe and enjoy some of the Shire's finest leaf.
- Write your very own Bilbo adventure and draw a fantastic map to accompany it.
- Build a  model of Bag End.  You can look at this fully decorated dollhouse size model for inspiration: miniature Bag End
- Plan construction of an actual hobbit hole, here are plans.
- Sing one of Bilbo's many tunes or read some of his poems.

I waited too long this year, but next year (or maybe in 2012 since the 22nd is on a Saturday), I am throwing an epic, themed feast under the small party tree in my backyard.  I can't wait.  For this year though, I'll read Fellowship of the Rings for a while and cook a very hobbit-y dinner.

September 21, 2010

Favorite Characters: Vala Mal Doran

If you didn't last until season 8 of Stargate: SG-1, you missed out on Vala Mal Doran.  A space pirate of sorts, con artist, and thief, she somehow becomes a regular fixture at Stargate Command, eventually joining the SG-1 team.  She also plays a big part in the  You won't be surprised to learn that underneath everything, she is a good person.  Also?  She makes pigtails look hot.

Vala first makes an appearance in season 8 of the show (Prometheus Unbound), and she was only intended to be around for one episode.  Because of the playful chemistry between Vala and Daniel Jackson and the popularity of the character, she was asked to return in season 9.  Claudia Black declined a regular role but guest starred in a six episode arc.  Finally, Vala was a regular character in season 10.  Vala was witty, mischievous, and added a new dynamic to the show.  With the show maybe a bit past its prime and changes like Richard Dean Anderson leaving, a character like Vala was needed.  Actually, I don't want to imagine the last two seasons without her.  Her presence obviously added a new facet to the team, but Vala was entirely different from any other recurring character.  Watching the actors and characters figure out how to interact with her kept me watching.  It was also fun to have a strong female character that wasn't a scientist or a Goa'uld.  Black played the role perfectly, and she won Saturn and Constellation awards for her portrayal.  It is because of Claudia Black that I will eventually watch Farscape.

I like to think that she would be friends with Han Solo. One of the show writers, Damian Kindler, did compare her character growth in season 10 to Lando Calrissian - a former swindler who's gone legit.

Favorite Vala episode:
Memento Mori

I'll be reviewing the recently published comic book series about Vala soon!

September 20, 2010

Arm Yourself! 5 Weapons I'd Take Into The Fray

Earlier today, I was pondering what sci-fi or fantasy weapons I would arm myself with if I could only pick five.  Everyone thinks about these sort of things while at lunch, right?  I thought so. 

The choices across all of worlds of fiction border on infinity.  Even my poor memory called up way too many phasers and rayguns to make my choices easy.  To narrow the scope, I decided the weapon had to be one that any normal person could pick up and use.  That at least eliminated wands, but not much else.  Then I decided I could pick one weapon from each fictional world.  After careful consideration, I came up with these.  If I had to go out into the void of space, a paranormal gritty urban setting, or a fantasy world filled with green hills and inns with hot, crusty bread these would be the weapons I would bring along.

I haven't worked out where I would keep them all on my person.  I'll get back to you on that.

1. DL-44

"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side."
Well, dammit Janet, it's just true.  The DL-44 is lightweight, reliable, and accurate.  It also has the handy feature of letting you know if you have five shots left by vibrating the handle.  Neat, huh?  If they had commercials during the Galactic Civil War, this weapon would be branded "weapon of choice among the Rebellion, smugglers, and bounty hunters."  Not that the Emperor would let them advertise that.

2. Hadhafang
When your blaster runs out of shots, you have to be prepared with a weapon that doesn't require ammunition.  Even though Arwen's sword, Hadhafang, was created just for the Lord of the Rings movies, I hope you don't hold that against it.  It was wielded by Elrond during the battle of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.  It's been around and survived a scrape or two.  The name of the sword was also a newly coined Sindarin word meaning throng-cleaver.  I am not ashamed to admit that one reason for choosing Arwen's sword is the fine craftmanship, i.e. it's really pretty.

3. Mr. Pointy

 What if I meet vampires while I'm out adventuring?  Yes, I could behead them with Hadhafang, but what if the blade is dull (Elven blades don't dull I realize, but just go with me)?  I need a simpler, more effective weapon.  Something I can strike with and then recoil.  Mr. Pointy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is perfect for the task.  It's a little fancier than your average wooden stake, and it was made by Kendra Young.  She gave it to Buffy to kill Angelus.  Though that didn't happen, Mr. Pointy was mentioned in a few more episodes.

4. The Colt

 So I've got vamps, Wraiths, and Imperial Stormtroopers covered now - but not demons.  I'd hate to meet one of those unprepared.  There's no way I would rely on my memory to create a Devil's trap and then remember the words and pronunciations for an exorcism.  No.  It would be much better to have the Colt from Supernatural.  Besides having a wicked design, it's had a fascinating past.  This gun was built by Samuel Colt along with 13 bullets.  Anything that is hit by one the bullets will die, including demons.  I guess that means I should really work on my aim.  The phrase "I will fear no evil" is inscribed on the Colt in Latin.

It shouldn't be that hard to find.  The Winchesters always seem to be misplacing it.

5. Crysknife

To round out my collection, I wanted something small and deadly.  The crysknife from Dune was more a sentimental choice than anything else.  Dune is one of my most favorite books, and the crysknife is part of an important ritual.  It is a sacred weapon of the Fremen; the knife is made from a tooth of the planet's giant sandworms.  If a crysknife is unsheathed, it must draw blood before it is sheathed again.  For my purposes, a weapon only to pull out in close combat, possibly as a last resort.

Who wants to visit Arrakis with me to steal a tooth from a Shai'Hulud?

I bet you're surprised that a lightsaber is missing from this list.  I left it off for one reason - I know that I would slice off a valuable limb in less than ten seconds.  I mean, I cut myself with a cheese grater for goodness' sake.

Which weapons would you choose?

September 18, 2010

Links (of a geeky tendency)

I've clicked on a lot of cool or cute things this week from Facebook or Twitter links and maybe some not so cool things too.  I'll spare you from those.  Here's the best of the links this week:

Sereni-teas - Want to know what this is?  F*ing brilliant is what!  Tea blends based on the characters and locations of Firefly.  The Canton blend includes rum, oriental spice, cream.  Yum!  This company also has Dr. Horrible inspired teas. 

Disney Princess Get a Superhero Look - In this blog post, Jill Pantozzi (aka The Nerdy Bird), shows us a different look for the Disney princesses.  I will fight any of you for Belle's outfit.

Space Invader Pop Up card craft - First, Craftster is amazing.  I recommend liking them on Facebook to get the highlights.  This card is just one of the many projects you can find on their site (yeah, there are a lot of geeky ones)!

Nightmare & Dream Designs of 12 Sci-Fi/Fantasy cities - WebUrbanist is another site I recommend following.  Their posts, even when not geeky, always have something cool, beautiful, or amazing to see.  This post shows us 12 fictional cities that are beautiful and/or terrifying.  You'll find something familiar in there.

Traditional Greeting Star Trek hoodie - Just click and look at the picture.  This design tells you to live long and prosper.

HelloWars - Star Wars + Hello Kitty = a very happy geek.  The cute in this Etsy store is almost too much to take.  Besides several sticker options, you can also find jewelry and pillows.

September 17, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Cosplay & Halloween Belong Together

I could be wrong (hey, it happens to all of us), but I don't think cosplayers usually spend a lot of time in the temporary Halloween stores that pop up at this time of year.  I hope they do at least visit because it's a great place find usual and affordable props especially if you can wait until after Halloween to take advantage of the sales!  Read more about Cosplay & Halloween Belong Together in my new post at Pink Raygun.

September 16, 2010

Steampunk Thursday #7 - Steampunk on a Budget

It's easy to let your costuming costs balloon out of control.  You see a must-have replica prop or a really lush fabric, and before you know it, you spent more on your costume than your prom dress (hey, back in my day, prom dresses were expensive).  You can control it though, and it is absolutely possible to create a suitable costume on a budget.  With steampunk, it's definitely possible to scavenge your costume or use a few shortcuts to save money.

Before you start reviewing the ideas below, think about the type of costume you want and set a budget.  You can create essentially the same costume for $50 or $500.  Compare it to the basic and deluxe versions you find of costumes in a bag at the Halloween store.  The $500 version of your costume would have nicer fabrics, real props as opposed to modded ones, extra-awesome goggles, etc.  The $50 version would have the base version of everything.  If you want to go toward the low end, plan the costume so that you can build it up and add elements later.

In my opinion, you can focus on one thing or another with a budget - either the actual clothes portion of the costume or a stupendous prop (like a kicking steampunk backpack) that will overshadow your clothes.  Alternatively, you can do little bit of both.  The below tips mostly apply to that option.

The Clothes
- If you can, sew away.  If you stick to economy fabrics, I don't think the affordability of sewing can be beat.  You can find plenty of period patterns on eBay and all over the internet.

- Bargain bins, clearance sales, yard sales, and secondhand are your friends.  If you are not patient enough to dig through this stuff, maybe you can bribe a friend into doing it.  Some folks love that sort of treasure hunt.

- You will be surprised at the amount of Victorian-esque clothing you can find in the usual places like eBay.  Look for Gunne Sax Victorian to see some great blouses and dresses.

Skirt made from a curtain
 - Repurpose.  For example, you could use a curtain or a sheet and safety pins to improvise a bustle skirt.  Try pinning up any long skirt you have, it gives it a different look.  For a men's costume, dig around to see if you have any vests left from a dance or wedding and add a pocket watch on a chain.

Accessories & Props
- The craft store is your friend.  Browse the aisles with the word steampunk in your head or maybe some images of a costume you want to emulate.  Some ideas: feathers glued onto a barrette for a fantastic hair piece, scrap leather for some gauntlets, leather laces for purse straps, ribbon and safety pins for an improvised ascot, large buttons to sew onto some knit socks to make spats, etc.  While you're there, buy a hot glue gun if you don't have one.  If you do have one, buy refills.  They go fast.

- Reference the above statement about secondhand.  I found a lace parasol, a cane, and a great leather jacket for less than $10 total at a church yard sale by pure chance.

- Check out stores like Charlotte Russe, Sidecca, & Forever 21 (brick and mortar or online) for things like gloves and belts.  I've also found great gloves in the wedding section of Michael's.

These tips are just the beginning, but I hope it's enough to get you started.  Please share your tips or success stories for budget costuming!

September 15, 2010

Star Trek made my day*

Sometimes you sign up for an iPhonetography workshop, and you visit a famous filming site like Vasquez Rocks to traipse around and make pictures.  And then your workshop instructor pulls a Star Trek uniform shirt from his bag and reenacts part of the epic battle between Kirk and the Gorn because he's the coolest ever.

Kyle Cassidy as Captain Kirk

Even though I have very little knowledge of the original series of Star Trek (I've seen the movies but only one or two of the actual episodes), I know of this battle.  For comparison:

When I laced up my hiking boots last Saturday morning, I never imagined I would take a picture like the one above.  Life is full of awesome / surprising / geeky moments.

*No, you cannot take away my Star Wars membership card for this.  I checked.

September 14, 2010

Sparkly or Burning - Which Kind of Vampire Is it?

Even before the Twilight induced vampire craze, it was difficult to keep all the vampires straight. The basic bloodsucking idea usually stays the same, but the powers and limitations have endless variations. And I'm okay with that. It would be a boring world if every vampire had the same rules. At one point though, I had just read Twilight and by coincidence happened to successively watch True Blood, Moonlight, and Buffy.

I admit it; I got my vampires mixed up.

To keep you from suffering my embarrassing fate, I give you a far-from-all-inclusive list of the recent vampires in books and television and their weaknesses and powers.  In case you come across a fictional vampire, you should be prepared.  I mean, what if you tried to trick a Twilight vampire into the sunlight?  You would just be blinded by the shimmer. 

True Blood
Traits: Fangs extend when they feed or if they are excited, but they are retractable.
Weaknesses: Silver, Sino-AIDS (both can lead to death if poisoning is severe), garlic
How to Kill: Full exposure to sunlight, burning, decapitation, wooden objects through the heart
Misc: Crosses are okay, must sleep in caskets or something similar during the day, have to be invited in

Traits: Ordinary appearance, no retractable fangs
Weaknesses: Garlic and EDTA
How to Kill: Wooden stakes, silver, and sunlight
Misc: Can eat human food but has no nutritional value, sunblock can provide temporary protection from UV Rays


Traits: Appearance changes before biting - eyes become white and fangs extend
Weaknesses: Sunlight, wooden stake (causes paralysis), silver
How to Kill: Decapitation, fire
Misc: Holy symbols don't matter, do not have to be invited in

Anne Rice
Traits: Very pale with visible fangs, usually quite attractive
Weaknesses: Sunlight (sunlight will kill younger vampires, but it is only a small threat to older vampires)
How to Kill: Fire, dismemberment, full exposure to sunlight
I wouldn't want to mess with these vampires.  Just saying.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel
Traits: Face changes drastically before biting, but fangs are retractable
Weaknesses: Holy symbols
How to Kill: Wooden stake to the heart, sunlight, burning, beheading
Misc: Have to be invited in by resident of property

Traits: Eyes become a bright shade of blue or gold when they transform.
Weaknesses: UV
How to Kill: Sunlight (Lycans uses photogenic bullets against them), wooden stake, decapitation, drowning,
Misc: They can create offspring.

The Vampire Diaries
Traits: Drink human and animal blood. They have heartbeats, just slower than humans.
Weaknesses: Cannot cross running water unless they are young vampires
How to Kill: Sunlight, stake to the heart, decapitation
Misc: Wearing a lapis lazuli gemstone protects them in sunlight, they can communicate telepathically, they can shift into animal form, have to be invited in

Traits: Extremely attractive, sparkles in sunshine, eyes are red if they drink human blood and gold if they drink animal blood or black if they are hungry
Weaknesses: Werewolves
How to Kill: Tear apart and burn pieces
Misc: Do not require sleep

I don't know what's more sad - that I've barely scraped the surface of the types of vampires out there or I've watched / read all but one of these.  Feel free to add more in the comments.  Oh and check out these extensive comparison tables on Wikipedia.

Oh and if you run into a kind I didn't list, stick to the basics or the least common denominator.  Beheading is the safest route.

September 13, 2010

Review: Cryptozooey, Issue 1

A couple of years ago at San Diego Comic-Con, I picked up my normal pile of comics from the Small Press area.  One of them was an all-ages comic called Cryptozooey.  I came across it again recently when I was reorganizing my collection and happily stopped what I was doing to sit down and read it again.

Cryptozooey is a tale of young girl who sets off with monsters of myth and urban legend to find her lost parents.  Her parents also happen to be renowned cryptozoologists.  These monsters happen to include an adorable Jackalope, a Loch Ness Monster, and the Jersey Devil.  They were all creatures protected by her parents in a sort of sanctuary (before the TV series came out).  She stirs up their tranquil lifestyle and in the whirlwind, she finds a clue to get them on her parent's trail.

I'm a sucker for cute, so the cover grabbed me right away.  It didn't take long for Zooey to win me over with her spunk and adventurous spirit.  It comes across in just a few panels.  I wouldn't want to babysit her, but I like her.  The whole cryptozoology thing?  I've always found that fun, and I bet it appeals to a lot of kids - young and old.  The story has a lot of fun potential.

Steve Troop is author and illustrator; you might recognize his name from Melonpool.  That comic has been published on the interwebs since 1996, making it one of the first webcomics.  His style is reminiscent of Calvin & Hobbes - cute characters, bold lines. 

Visit the Cryptozooey site for more info and to purchase a copy.  As you can see, it hasn't been updated for a while BUT I contacted the creators and they assured me that the next issue is in the works.  And I really hope there is, because there's supposed to be chupacabras.

September 10, 2010

It’s Joss NOT Josh

Very few people at my dayjob know Joss. In fact, at the time Dr. Horrible was released, no one knew who Joss Whedon even was. I was shocked, I was saddened. I mean, a Whedon-less life?!


About a year ago, the topic of weekend plans came up after a meeting at the office. Everyone else’s plans involved sports, shopping, or a wine tasting / makeover thing. When it came around the table to me, I proudly stated that I was going to a charity screening of Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible (this one), and that I would hopefully get to meet Felicia Day. As per the usual, they gave me blank stares. But then, one co-worker piped up. I hate to put people in pigeon holes, but if there were a photo beside the definition of sorority girl – it’s her. I was pleasantly surprise when she spoke up.

“Oh, yes, Josh Whedon! He’s going to be directing an episode of Glee, right? I’ve heard my husband mention [who worked at ABC] mention him.”

I replied, “Yes, I also heard that JOSS Whedon will be doing that.”

I am not usually that person, but I couldn’t help it.  Her tone was not the innocent, I don't know who that is so I'm mispronouncing it.  It was the "I'm correcting you" tone.  So I corrected back.

So there.

September 9, 2010

Steampunk Thursday #6: Interview with Miss Emily Ladybird

It's Thursday, and in my world, that means steampunk.  This week, Mary interviews a fabulous / talented / gorgeous steampunk costumer - Miss Emily Ladybird.  Read about her thoughts on steampunk and some great tips for creating a costume!  This interview is over at Mary's Three Years of Roses.

Favorite Episodes...

Though I have watched a handful of sci-fi / fantasy / supernatural shows, I have so many more to go.  Mostly, I feel lucky that I have endless entertainment ahead of me.  Part of me feels like I must watch it all right now though and how can I ever do that?!

One show at a time.  The below list includes my favorite complete television series, and my favorite episode or few episodes.  For me, it's interesting to see which ones I have a clear favorite for. 

It's fair to say that yes, there will be general spoilers.  Be careful.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Darmok, Season 5, Episode 102
In this episode, Captain Picard gets stranded on a planet alone and he has to learn to communicate with an alien captain - a Tamarian - who speaks in metaphors.  As if that wasn't hard enough, a dangerous beast is trying to kill them.  To save themselves, they have to understand each other. 

It might have been my age when I first saw this, but this is one episode that always sticks with me.  I remember being fascinated by the concept of a language based on that race's myths and histories.  I haven't seen this episode in a long time; somehow my collection of TNG stops at season 4.  I think it will hold up though.

All of them.
What an out, huh?  But every time I rewatch the single season (sniffle), I usually say something along the lines of, "damn that's a good show" when the credits start to roll for every episode.  If I had to pick one weak episode, for me it was The Message.

I'm going to go have a moment for all the lost potential now.

Battlestar Galactica
Whew, there are several.  I was blown away by this show, and it only barely out ranks Firefly as my favorite TV show ever.  Season 3 is my pick for the best overall season.

Exodus Part II, Season 3, Episode 36
Galactica burning through the atmosphere on New Caprica.  Enough said.

Crossroads, Part II, Season 3, Episode 53
Almost all is revealed.  We learn who four of the Cylons are.  Lee Adama makes a kick-ass speech at Baltar's trial... I remember staring at the television for a minute after this episode ended, entirely surprised that they gave us that many of the Cylons at once.  Well played Misters Eick and Moore, well played.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Gift, Season 5, Episode 100
I might get thrashed for picking this one, but I found the whole Glory plotline intriguing and this episode to be a solid end to an epic fight.  I mean, come on:
"Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me." - Buffy

Once More with Feeling, Season 6, Episode 107
A musical episode of Buffy?  Hell yes.  I listen to the soundtrack for this a lot.  So many strong emotions and key parts are conveyed through this singing though.  I always tear up during "Something to Sing About."

Stargate: SG-1
Threads, Season 8, Episode 818
I love SG-1, and I don't care who knows it. I find it to be fun, entertaining, full of great characters, and some truly wonderful moments. I think Threads showcases the best of the series.

I've watched this particular episode countless times. Part of it is the way the Ancients plotline is woven in and played out, part of it is definitely Mel Harris as Oma, part of it is the huge emotional scenes that play out - if you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil you. A lot of big things happen in this one episode. It is emotionally jarring to watch. To me, that screams good TV.

Not Fade Away, Season 5, Episode 110 - series finale
I don't think I've ever seen a show end any better.  Granted, there was the typical Joss Whedon cruelty and pain, but still.  I usually come away from series finales with questions or confusion or nitpicks - but not this one.

Smile Time, Season 5, Episode 102
Muppet. vampire.  If you don't find this episode to be hilarious, I don't know if we can be friends anymore.

What are your favorite episodes from these shows?

September 7, 2010

How The Clone Wars Made Me a Born-Again Star Wars Fan

People that have known me for a while have seen my enjoyment of Star Wars change from like (a lot) to love/obsession in just the past few years. I’ve heard the unspoken question – “why are you suddenly such a fan?” I’ve even been accused of jumping on a bandwagon. I didn’t know there was a Star Wars bandwagon 30 years later. Because I want the world to know what brought me back to this epic universe and maybe inspire someone else to step in, three words can explain why I came back to Star Wars and all its magic: The Clone Wars.

I saw the original trilogy for the first time when the films were re-released in theaters in the 90s. My only other experiences with sci-fi to that point were Star Trek: The Next Generation and Quantum Leap. "Space opera" wasn’t even a phrase in my vocabulary (yes, I know – very sad). I walked out of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in amazement. I couldn’t believe that anything like that was made when it was made. It still held up (and still does). I was first in line to see the next two as they came to the local theater. I could have rented them on VHS, but I wanted to experience them big.

I awaited the prequels eagerly. I thought myself incredibly lucky to be able to see the evolution of Darth Vader so soon. Maybe I was late to the game, but most Star Wars fans had to wait 20 years for this story... this next huge piece in the Star Wars universe. Though I remember not falling crazy in love with Star Wars Episode I: A Phantom Menace, I was thrilled just to be experiencing a new Star Wars film along with thousands and thousands of other fans. Everyone was excited – more excited than at any other film I’ve been to.

The prequels came and went. I enjoyed them - the effects, the fights, the creatures. What really got me about these movies was the history and information about a whole new timeline. I was fascinated by the time of multiple Jedi knights and the rise of the Emperor. Still, Star Wars hovered in my mild fandom area. Around 2000, in between the prequels, I discovered the novels of the Expanded Universe thanks to a female co-worker who was obsessed with them but as soon as she quit, I lost my endless supply and fell out of touch with Star Wars.

Then in 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars came along.

For some reason, it pulled me into the Star Wars universe like nothing else had. Well not just for some reason, for many! From the further exploration of the timeline that had so intrigued me, to a new lead female character that though young was full of potential, the idea of seeing more of Anakin’s descent to the dark side, learning more about Yoda, the new and striking visual style – and many more things (I was so jazzed when they announced that it would be a continuing series).

The Clone Wars movie really opened my eyes to the awesome that is Star Wars. I finally saw the copious amount of histories, timelines, and guides available as the magical tomes they are. I re-watched the original trilogy and the prequels for the first time in years. I delved into the Expanded Universe, starting with comics from Dark Horse. I devoured everything I could, and I know I’ve still only made the tiniest scratch. It’s been so much fun to fall into this vast universe and meet all the fascinating characters and explore bizarre worlds, and it will just continue. It is an infinite world that won’t go anywhere as long as fans believe. And I’ve met enough Star Wars fans to know that not only are they the best, but once you’re a fan, you’re a fan for life. You pass it on to your children, friends, anyone who will listen.

Because of The Clone Wars, I was able to look back. I was able to see, really for the first time, just what Star Wars meant and the impact it had when it was released as well as its continuing impact on films and fans.
Cross-posted at Newsarama.

September 6, 2010

Lots of links

Here's a round up of some of my favorite links I stumbled across on Facebook and Twitter this week:

Lego instructions - instructions on how to build pretty much everything ever from Legos.  I don't have a huge stash of Legos, but I bet someone out there does.

Geek Painted Nail Designs - I linked these on Facebook too, but they are so damn cool that you should look again. I'm not even capable of painting my fingernails a solid color, so I can't imagine the work these took or even how. It doesn't quite look airbrushed, but I could be wrong. Nail polish is not my area of knowledge strength.

Behind the scenes of Game On - I'm sure most of you that are fans of the webseries The Guild or Felicia Day saw the latest music video Game On.  Greg Aronowitz, prop builder, FX, etc, put together this great behind the scenes post on the video.  See how the props were made and learn just why he has a prop elephant on hand.

Wookiee the Chew - If you haven't seen the adorable Wookiee the Chew illustrations from James Hance yet, stop reading this post and go look.  Chewbacca as Winnie the Pooh, R2D2 as Piglet - your heart will melt from cute.

Geek cross stitch - You know you've always wanted to cross stitch Donkey Kong or the Mac command key.  Geeky crafts say love like very few other things do.  This Etsy seller has lots of options!

September 3, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Blaster Modifying 101

Learning how to mod weapons is a basic skill for costuming.  Even if you never plan to cosplay anything with a weapon, try modding something.  It helps problem solving skills... and it makes things look SO much cooler. 

Read about how a toy DL-44 turned into a kick ass prop for my Han Solo costume in my new post at Pink Raygun.

September 2, 2010

Steampunk Thursday - Interlude - Steampunk or Not Steampunk?

It's funny.  Steampunk Thursday happens on Thursdays, yet it always sneaks up on me.  This week, here's a bit of an interlude for you.  Steampunk vs Not Steampunk.

The definition of steampunk is loose, but not so much that it is non-existent.  And while I try not to be judgmental, some things are so far outside of the category as to be laughable.  See for yourself.  These are all finds tagged as steampunk on Etsy.


Not Steampunk

Steampunk (well, Victorian)

Not Steampunk


Not Steampunk

I think you get the idea.  Feel free to share some of your examples or tell me why I'm wrong in the comments.  Also, Regretsy has pages of Not Remotely Steampunk that will make you smile.

Read more steampunk Thursday posts from my blog or at Mary's blog, Three Years of Roses.  Stay tuned next week for an interview by Mary with an awesome steampunk costumer!

September 1, 2010

The Bean... now in color

You know how much I love the webcomic The Bean.  Besides the fact that the creator is a friend, it is a fantastic, epic tale that always keeps me on the edge of my seat wanting more.  The comic also comes in printed format, and you can read a bit more about Travis Hanson and Issue 1 of The Bean in a previous post.

The webcomic updates every Monday and Thursday.  The webcomic is a bit behind the physical issues, so no worries about waiting weeks between updates.  I've never known The Bean to post late.  Anyways.  Travis announced some exciting news this week.  The Bean gets to be in color.  It's already wonderful in black and white, and colors - as you can see from the above image - just bring it to another level.   Go click to embiggen the above image and drool, I'll wait. 

The very talented Ben Hunter will be bringing us colored panels every Tuesday.  He is going back to the beginning of the tale and adding colors to each post.  To which I say, lucky us!

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