November 30, 2010

Will the Force Make Me a Better Cook?

Did you ever think, "Hey, I would love for my kitchen to have a Star Wars theme!"  I have.  Of course, I was just thinking about decor.  I could put up a shelf for some of my toys and maybe make some Yoda themed contact paper for the cupboards.  But I can go a step beyond that now.  I can actually stock my kitchen with Star Wars gadgets and serving things and baking accessories.  I think I can say that there has never been such a wide range of Force sensitive cooking gear available.  Oh yes, it goes far beyond the Williams-Sonoma cookie cutters and pancake molds.

Speaking of those, in case you didn't know, Williams-Sonoma has a pretty kicking Star Wars line.  You can get everything from a Darth Vader flexible spatula to Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighter shaped sandwich cutters.  Yes, just like that, you can have an epic space battle with your food.  Well, now with ship shaped food.

What else?  Well, don't forget to buy a pair of Star Wars Chop Sabers from ThinkGeek.  You have to provide your own sound effects while dining, but they are still awesome.  Sometimes I like to stab my food with them for extra effect.  And also because I'm not that good with chopsticks.
Oh - and they also have a R2-D2 Peppermill.  It will look perfect on your dinner table right next to the glass of blue milk.

The StarWars.com shop has a few things to bring your kitchen up to lightspeed too.  Have you always wanted to don a Slave Leia costume but found it way too revealing?  You can get a taste of the experience while keeping your clothes safe from Wampa steak grease with this Slave Leia apron designed by Spencer Brinkerhoff III.  You can go for Darth Vader too.  Though Vader is not in a metal bikini.  Thankfully.


The same shop has a very easy to control Space Slug Oven Mitt and Darth Vader Toaster.  The toaster leaves a Darth Vader burn mark on every slice.  It's like seeing the Virgin Mary but geekier!

And we're not through yet!  I know!  How could it be that there is even more?  Well Target.com happens to have a roomy Clone Trooper Helmet Cookie Jar.  Don't say "66" around it though; no, really - you don't want to risk it!

Kmart has cute collector's mugs. Though apparently they think "Bobafett" is all one word. We'll forgive them for that, right? We'll also let it slide that they said that these are perfect for that "special guy." This girl would love to drink my Earl Grey, hot out of Boba Fett's head.  Don't take that one out of context, okay?


How about using R2-Q5 to dispense your soy sauce?   Again, you have to provide your own bleep and bloop noises.

Finally, your Star Wars kitchen wouldn't be complete without The Star Wars Cookbook.  Oh, and let me say that Star Wars stickers greatly improve the appearance of any Kitchen Aid mixer.

May the nonstick pan be with you!

November 28, 2010

Links (of a geeky tendency)

My favorite links from the past couple of weeks!





Behind the Scenes Photos of ILM Greats - See some photos from the ILM scenes behind Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and more.

Butcher's Guide to Bowser - This handy image gives you a breakdown of the finest cuts of Bowser.  You know, in case you were curious.

Nerdy Moments Guaranteed to Make You Cry - Pretty much just what that says.  There are video clips for each moment.  You might want to have tissues handy.


Rare photos from Star Trek: TNG - In case you haven't seen these yet, you really should check out these photos from the set of TNG.  I hadn't seen any of them before.  There are lots of great moments captured.

5 Amazing & 5 Underwhelming Mail Away Action Figures - I just received my rocket firing Boba Fett mail away action figure, and I have to say - he is very cool.  There are some on this list that are less than cool, but still pretty funny.

Urban Tron Designs - Tron: Legacy will be out in theaters soon.  If you would like to attend opening night decked in Tron inspired fashion accessories, it's apparently easy to do.  This post from Web Urbanist shows off Tron jewelry designs, clothing, and even housewares.



Grandma's Superhero Therapy - I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I love the photos of this 91 year old grandmother in a superhero costume.  They are sure to make you smile.

November 26, 2010

Make Your Own Geeky Gifts!

Besides saving cash, making stuff shows that you care in a way not quite like buying presents and it can be really fun.  I suggest starting immediately though.  Get supplies as soon as you can, and then block off a Saturday or a whole weekend to just make presents.  If you have friends that need to make presents then get everyone together at a central location.  You can pool supplies and ideas and eat lots of junk food.  Just remember that foods like Cheetos are bad for crafting.

Here a few geeky DIY projects!


Star Wars Amigurumi patterns - Amigurumi: I have no idea what it technically means, but it seems to be associated with cute.  And these crocheted Star Wars guys are about the cutest things ever.  I do not crochet, but I read a few reviews of the patterns on Craftster that said the directions are clear as can be!  If you want to make a few for me... I won't object.  ;)

 
Cross stitch patterns and kits from Bombastitch - This great Etsy seller has a big selection of geeky cross stitch patterns and kits.  Kits are the easiest way to go, but it's not much trouble to pick up the cross stitch basics from your friendly neighborhood craft store.



GeekDad - Geeky Projects for Dads and Kids - Despite the title, it's actually not just for dads and kids.  It's for grown-ups, parents or not, male and female.  This looks to be full of cool crafts and among many things you can "ereate a customized comic strip or your own board game."


Star Wars pop-ups from Robert Sabuda - This might not be for presents, but they would be really fun to use for mini cards or even tags.  He has instructions to create lots of characters from the Star Wars universe.

Craftster - Craftster is your guide to amazing projects.  You can find inspiration, tips, and sooo many tutorials.  I've seen plenty of geek-themed things in their forums.  Besides browsing through their site, I recommend looking them on Facebook and liking the page for the latest features.

Felt Monsters! - Monsters are cute.  This is a great step-by-step tutorial on making felt monsters.  You can alter it and make zombies or bacteria or almost anything. 

If you have any ideas about what to make, please share them in the comments!

My Holiday Geek Gift Suggestions!

Because I know you need another geek gift guide, I've put together a list of my ideas!  Though I am obviously enough of a fan of these lists to create one, I also want to encourage you to buy thoughtfully.  If you have a geek in your life, don't just aimlessly go to Think Geek and pick something random.  That's not the best example; most geeks would love anything from there.  But hopefully you get my point.

If buying things isn't in the plans for you, I'm also posting links to tutorials and kits so you can make your own geeky gifts.


TARDIS soap by Luxury Lane Soaps - This is a brand new item that will thrill any Dr. Who fan on your list.  Don't know anyone who would appreciate a TARDIS?  Well. Luxury Lane has a ton of other products: Star Wars themed, video game themed, and soap that is soap-themed.  I've tried her soaps, scrubs, and candles and all are of wonderful quality.


Steampunk Dice Set from RPG Shop - No, the gamer in your life never has enough dice.  And these dice are droolworthy.  If you think these are a little too fanciful, you have tons of options on that site for dice and LOTS of other tabletop RPG supplies.  Encourage imagination and gaming!


Fossils! - I've met few people who didn't think that fossils are the bee's knees.  They are easy to find, you can spend as much or as little as you would like, and the variety is endless.  I know people that collect both trilobites and ammonites.  I've had luck shopping with Fawcett Hobbies for fossils.  If you can buy them in person, that's the best way to go.  If you live anywhere in the west, you'll probably be able to find a store in your area.  I feel like I drove past 20 of them on a drive to Bryce Canyon in Utah.  Use some sense too, if it looks fake - it could be.  Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions especially if you're paying more than $20 for a fossil.


The Last Unicorn perfume oils from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab - The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle enchanted me when I was younger.  Actually, it still does to this day.  A beautifully illustrated comic book version of the tale has been released this year.  And now, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has crafted amazing scents inspired by the story.  This is actually just the first of the series.  The label artwork is done by the artist of the comic - Renae De Liz.  I suggest buying the perfume oil and giving it with a copy of the book.


Laser Star Projector from ThinkGeek - Who wouldn't want this in their bedroom?  No one I know.  I mainly included this so that I could say - buy anything from ThinkGeek.  They have an amazing selection and great customer service.  The end.


Books and comics! The careful choosing of a book for a friend has been a perfect solution sometimes.  I've picked my favorites and given them out, this year I'm giving a book that collects the work of a friend's favorite comic book artist, etc.  Even if a person isn't a reading fanatic, there might be a giant photography or coffee table book that they will love.  If you are friends with a geek, chances are he or she loves reading though.  You almost can't lose.


Fountain pen - The timeless quality of a fountain pen is not going to be lost on most geeks.  Especially if they're writers.  I have a vintage treasure that is pastel peach, and though I do not use it everyday, it gives me a little joy each time I pick it up.  I love having bottles of inks and the smudges.  And I bet I'm not the only one.  Plus it's a gift that has lots of accessories - you can create a whole package with various inks, nibs, and paper.  It's another gift where you can spend a whole range of money.  The Fountain Pen Hospital is a good place to start.

Finally, I think you should make it a goal to buy at least one thing from an independent artist this year.  Check out Etsy and Artfire.  There is PLENTY of geeky art and awesomeness and toys on both sites to keep you flipping through pages for hours.

November 24, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Un-Muggle Yourself

Though I am planning a Tonks costume for the second half of the Deathly Hallows next year, last week I decided I needed a Hogwarts student costume stat.  I was surprised by how easy it was to put together.  Read my latest post at Pink Raygun to learn how to Un-Muggle yourself in a hurry.

A Visit to Designer Con - More than Toys

Designer Con 2010
Shiny vinyl, bizarre and adorable monsters, plushies, prints, and more lined the aisles at Designer Con 2010. The convention, formerly known as Vinyl Toy Network, took place last Saturday at the Pasadena Convention Center. You didn't have to be a toy collector or fanatic to enjoy the show either. You just needed an appreciation for fun and art.

Despite getting soaked while waiting outside in the rain to get indoors to purchase tickets (they had one person taking the $5 admission fee), my spirits dried out fast. Though the convention was smaller than most I attend, it was buzzing and vibrant. A local radio station played upbeat tunes in the background, the floor was crowded with people, and raffles were announced loudly every hour or so. Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art school set up in the back of the room and kept attendees entertained by doing live art on stage. There was more to take in than I expected. Ninety plus vendors were on hand showing off their creations. The convention has been going since 2006, and it's a big enough deal for companies to create exclusives for it (click here to view them). That, more than anything, said to me that though the convention was small, it is important in the toy world. I mean, it's grown from a 1,100 ft space to 25,000 ft. Not so bad.




Designer Con 2010


I found so much to adore. The creativity in the room was amazing. I feel like anyone would have found something to like at the show. I watched kids lunge for plush monsters and adults dig through bins of bargain toys at DKE with glee. You could get several commercial toys, but most of the vendors were independent artists. The name of the convention changed because it is about more than toys. I saw prints, stationary, books, comics, buttons, and apparel. Styles ranged from adorable to urban grunge to steampunk. I made it a point to seek out some artists I already knew, but I found some new places to spend money as well.




Spoonful of Star Wars


DKE Toys even brought an art show with them: Spoonful of Star Wars. The original paintings by artist Bwana Spoons were inspired by the vintage Kenner action figures released from 1977-1985. The paintings weren't limited to just the most popular characters either. I admit that I was equally excited to see the art and the figures. The bright representations of the Max Rebo Band, our heroes, droids, and more were delightful. I can't think of a better word for the show. I couldn't stop smiling while I photographed the collection. The show was a one time event, but you can view my photographs (with the action figures) here.

Next year, I won't have to think about whether I want to attend this convention. It's a given.

Want to see more photos from the convention? Just click here.


Cross-posted at Nerd Approved.

November 23, 2010

Be a Patriot - Monster Commute 2 Pre-Order

Remember when I reviewed the comic Monster Commute?  It's a fantastic all ages webcomic and printed comic.  The first Monster Commute comic is a gem.  Besides collecting the webcomic strips, creator Daniel Davis included tons of new information about the world the comic takes place in.  Monstru is not like our world, and you should really read all the information you can find to help you get around.  The second Monster Commute book promises to be equally awesome.  I mean - just look at the cover:
Like they did with the first Monster Commute, Steam Crow has a set up a wonderful pre-order system.  Besides ensuring that you get a copy, you are helping indie artists be profitable faster because the pre-orders help cover the huge upfront cost of printing and shipping.  Just to be extra clear - it's not a hand-out.  It's a pre-order.  Just like the pre-orders you place on Amazon for the latest whatever.  The biggest difference is that you are paying now rather than when the order ships and for very good reason.  You have options too.  You can view the many packages available - everything from a downloadable PDF version of the book to enslaving Daniel Davis for the day - right here.  The book drive lasts until January 31st, and they plan to ship the orders out as quickly as possible after that date.

Here are Steam Crow's fast facts about the new book:
  • Book collects the Monster Commute strips 61-121 (http://www.monstercommute.com)
  • It doesn't require book 1 to read. (Story really starts in book 2)
  • Lots of new extras and new facts about the monster world of MONSTRU.
  • 80 pages. Full color. 11x9 inches. Perfect bound. High quality printing.
  • Every book shipped is hand numbered and signed.
  • Limited first edition of 1500 books.
  • Comes with an exclusive ltd edition print of Chadworth, signed and numbered.
  • All proceeds go to the printing, customs, and shipping of the book.
As a fan of Steam Crow for a few years, I can tell you that everything they offer is made with pride.  I've purchased books, buttons, prints, and even pint glasses from them; it's all been of the highest quality.

Support indie artists!

November 22, 2010

A Love Letter to the Millennium Falcon

Dear M. Falcon,

I thought it was time that you know about my feelings for you. If you were mine, I would never put you on the table in a game of sabacc.

You are, without doubt, the most comely of ships to fly through the black corridors of space. Your shape was also inspired by a hamburger; I find this to add to your beauty. Your speed is practically unparalleled. Too much credit goes to the pilot for getting you through the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. We know just how much of that was due to your grace.


I watched the ships of Star Trek soar across my television without any real emotional attachment. Sure, they were sleek and attractive. But you. When I first saw you, I knew you were different. You oozed character and history. You were like the subtly scarred and dangerous person in the corner of every dive bar. Plus, you can blend in with trash like no other ship out there. Even during your construction in the shipyards at the Orbital Assembly Shipyards, the workers knew you were one in a million. You have flown all over the galaxy and changed names more than a secret agent. You served the Corell Industries Limited, smugglers, the Commercial Combine, the Senate, the Jedi (I won't tease you for being called the Stellar Envoy), crime lords, and Rebels. Though one Quip Fargil bestowed your true name upon you, he couldn't hold you. Your stubbon nature was meant for smuggling though... and saving the Rebels on a regular basis.

"Take good care of her, Solo. That ship saved my life quite a few times over the years."
- Lando Calrissian

I even made a Millennium Falcon apple pie in your honor. I know it is not as valuable a tribute as credits, but I have a feeling you'll appreciate the thought. If that is not sufficient to win your love in return, I am starting a collection of replicas so I can build a shrine in your honor.

I admit that I was distracted by the comely shape of Serenity, that Firefly class transport ship with oh so many nooks and crannies, but I was wrong to stray. You will always be my first and true love.

Yours always,
A.


Thank you StarWars.wikia.com for history..
Post inspired by Jen at EPBOT.
 
Millennium Falcon Resources
History/Info
StarWars.com
Star Wars Wikia
 
Crafts/Art
How to Draw the Millennium Falcon
Origami Millennium Falcon
10 cool Millennium Falcon inspired objects
StarWars.com Falcon paper craft - look through their craft archives, they have a bunch!
Millennium Falcon cake how-to
 
Images
Galaxy Far Away
Thomas Models
Star Wars Wikia

November 19, 2010

Quickie Reviews: Last Unicorn, Artifacts, and Legends of the Guard

Here are my thoughts on the comics I picked up on 11/17!

The Last Unicorn #6
IDW
Written by Peter S. Beagle, adapted by Peter B Gillis
Art by Renae De Liz

Pain, victory, love, being human - we get to face all of these in the last issue of the comic book interpretation of The Last  Unicorn.  If you are a fan of the book and movie, I can almost guarantee you will enjoy the comics.  The writing has been very true to the book and that continued in this issue.  Lady Amalthea has to make hard decisions; in her last human moments, she understands the power of real love.  My favorite thing about this last issue is the amount of emotion conveyed just by the art.  Renae De Liz has a real talent for storytelling, and every line - whether it is a character's facial expression or a component of the background - contributes to the mood and feeling of the scene.  It supports the writing, and together they are a strong force.  The scenes in the last part of the book have the potential to be silly if translated wrong visually.  But the Red Bull was terrifying, the tide of kidnapped unicorns was beautiful, and the last moments between Lir and Amalthea/Unicorn were very moving.  I've read the book The Last Unicorn a few times, and though the words in the comics are less, I feel just equally satisfied by reading them.

Artifacts #3
Top Cow
Written by Rob Marz
Pencils by Michael Broussard

Though I've read some Witchblade stories here and there, Artifacts has been my first foray into Top Cow's titles. I was intrigued by issue 0 of the series when I got it on Free Comic Book Day this year. The series centers on 13 artifacts; each has an origin story and is very powerful on its own. But when you combine them, the power is strong enough to remake the world. You've guessed correctly if your next thought was that an evil force is trying to obtain all 13 artifacts for an equally evil purpose.  The good guys (well, the better ones) are trying to get them first.  The series is very entertaining, but the aspects I love most are the character and prop designs.  The artifacts visually emanate strength, as do their bearers.  I would pick up this comic just to stare at the pages, but as it happens, the story is worthy too.  This issue is action packed and jumps around a bit.  I had to read it twice to find the path of the story.  I liked that there was a recap in this issue of who has which artifact.  It can get a touch convoluted.



Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #4*
Archaia
Stories and art by Carl Rousseau, Karl Kerschl, Mark Smylie, David Petersen

If you're not familiar with this series so far, it is an anthology of tales set in the world of David Petersen's Mouse Guard.  Mice at at the June Alley Inn gather to tell tales.  The only rules are that every story must contain one truth, one lie, and have never been told in that tavern before.  This is the last issue in the series.  I enjoy the Mouse Guard world.  I like everything from the lettering to the color pallette to the characters to the story.  It is delightful to see other creators tell stories in this world.  This particular issue has three different tales.  The first story tells the Mouse Guard version of the familiar lion and the mouse fable, the second tale is about a brave guardmouse named Sadie, and the final piece is a tale of power, love, and revenge.  The last tale by Mark Smylie is the one that really stood out for me.  It was a classic tale, but powerful and incredibly engaging.  The illustrations are captivating for each story.  All the panels are rich with texture, layers, and details.  If you're looking for a different sort of comic series to buy for children or adults for the holidays, I recommend this one.

*I think that this title was technically released on 11/10 but my comic store didn't receive it until 11/17.

November 17, 2010

Harry Potter - This Muggle Isn't Ready for the End

The visual half of Harry Potter is drawing to a close. Well, almost. We'll get the premiere of the last half of the Deadly Hallows in the summer. Then there will be the special edition boxed set in time for Christmas 2011. Oh and don't forget the extra special super edition set with your very own house elf. I plan to name mine Legolas. Oh, he's a different kind of elf isn't he? Right. I always forget that.

Because the Deathly Hallows is dark and action packed and set away from the safety of Hogwarts, I have high hopes for the movie. I'm glad it's split into two parts because less will be cut out. This isn't the time or place to cut out swathes of narrative. Sure, it will result in Warner Brothers getting more money, but fans get to see more fantastical things. I know it will be worth the torturous eight month wait. But then, emptiness. No more Harry Potter movies unless J.K. Rowling decides to dive back into that world quill first.

All of the articles I've read about the last installment of the Harry Potter saga (hey, if Twilight can be a saga, then Harry Potter is more than entitled to the name) are about the cast. I've read plenty about what Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are doing next and how they feel about spending half their lives in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.* I lapped up every one of those articles with glee, but what about us? What about the fans? What are we going to do next?

We don't have an amazing follow up waiting in the wings. The film interpretation of The Hunger Games is on the horizon, but there's just three books. Though I love the world of the Hunger Games, it's not the eye candy with an amazing cast of characters like Harry Potter.  We do get more of Middle Earth in the two part version of The Hobbit.  That will make me forget about The Boy Who Lived temporarily.  We have comics coming to the screen left and the right, but it's not the same either. Really, nothing can be. I'm not really looking for a replacement either, just a consolation sort of pat on the back.  I think I can speak for legions of fans when I talk about the characters like they are my old and dear friends. We've spent more than a decade walking the corridors of Hogwarts, being terrified of Voldemort, practicing spells with pretend wands, and choosing our House. I remember the day that I borrowed The Sorcerer's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets from my sister. I read them in just a couple of sittings. I was instantly enchanted and addicted. When the movie news started to buzz, well, I held equal excitement for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

The movies have not let me down in the slightest. Sure, they are different from the books. It's not fair to hold a movie word for word to the book it was inspired by. But every character was cast spot on. They were all exactly who I pictured before the movie existed. That these rich and spectacular books could come to life like so many people imagined it – well, it was beyond delightful. When you see books like that translated so successfully to the screen, it's easy to nudge the arrow of fantasy more towards the side of reality. You can really immerse yourself even further into the world. I enjoy the books without the visual side, but the films have really meant a lot to me. 

I'm incredibly excited about the release of the Deathly Hallows, but also a little sad. I'm not ready for it to be over yet.

*If I could get an interview with any of them, I would write yet another article about that subject.

November 16, 2010

Review – Love and Capes, Volume 1

cross posted at geek girls network

Love and Capes, Volume 1
Do You Want to Know a Secret?

The Crusader’s day is something like this: work on a client’s taxes (hey, superheroes have bills to pay too), save the world, eat lunch, meet girlfriend for dinner, save the world. It’s not easy to juggle a double-life, but the Crusader, also known as Mark, gets by okay.

Love and Capes by Thomas Zahler tells the story of a couple in love - Mark and Abby. It just so happens that Mark is also the Crusader. He is a member of the Liberty League, and sometimes he has to rush off in the middle of dinner to save the world. What can a superhero do? Well, other than stop in Australia on the way home for his girlfriend’s favorite flowers. In this first collected volume, Mark decides to reveal his secret super identity to Abby, normal bookstore owner. No, this is not your average story about a superhero and his civilian girlfriend.

The presentation of his secret is perfect, and Abby takes it surprisingly well. Then she immediately tells this important secret to her sister. Oops. Well, she needs someone to talk to! We get to follow her and Mark through normal new relationship joys and woes. Yes, they are sometimes annoyingly adorable. They meet each other’s parents, Abby has to deal with Mark’s ex-girlfriend Amazonia (who happens to be a gorgeous superhero), Mark introduces Abby to his favorite method of travel, and they struggle over what to buy each other for Christmas. You know, just your everyday sort of problems. I refuse to give away more specific points of the plot.

The comic is tagged as a "Heroically Super Situation Comedy.” It is exactly that. You can’t help but picturing this in a TV sitcom format. Zahler has created a cast of characters that you want to be pals with. We know that the Crusader saves the day, but the style of the comic makes you focus more on the fact that he’s a nice guy. The superhero stuff is there, but it happens off-camera for the most part. To me, the comic is about relationships and the normal side of superheroes. Mark and Abby are the focus of the series, but there’s also Abby and Charlotte, the Crusader and Darkblade, and Mark and Amazonia. This fantastic cast and the nuances of all their interactions are what keep me turning pages. I am invested in all of these characters, and I care about what happens to them.

The cartoony style of illustration is perfect for the story. Mark is impossibly square-jawed, and Abby is petite and adorable. Amazonia is, of course, stunning and model-like. The art is smooth, and the color palette is inviting. Though I don’t usually comment on layouts, the 8 panel format really makes the comic flow. I can’t say enough good things about the fast-paced dialogue and funny in-jokes and pop culture references. It’s funny that Zahler mentions Gilmore Girls in the comic because the snappy back and forth really reminds me of the show.

I especially recommend Love and Capes to people that either want to read comics but don’t know where to start or just haven’t found the right comic for them yet. I tell them about this comic because it’s human, it’s wonderfully written, it’s funny, and almost everyone can relate to some aspect. Does it sound like I’m gushing? Well, I am a little. I really adore this series, and when I like something so much, I want the rest of the world to give it a try. You can even read it online!

You can buy Love and Capes directly from Zahler’s site or ask about it at your local comic book store.

November 15, 2010

Not Your Average Snow White Costume

You will never hear me say that Disney princesses are overdone.  One day I will get around to a Belle costume.  Oh and Princess Aurora.  For a photo shoot I did a couple of years ago though, the photographer wanted to tell a Snow White tale.  Specifically, we wanted to show a bloody and gruesome version.  I'll spare you the fake blood and just talk about the costume.  The idea called for a take on the costume far different from the pristine, standard Snow White image.  So, cue improvising.  I was really happy with the end results, and I figured someone else might like this costume too.  Or at least it might give someone other ideas about Disney princess costume interpretations.  Here's how this costume was made:

Hair - I'm a brunette and we just sprayed on black hair spray.  It worked, but it did rub off on everything.

Headband with bow - Purchased from The Icing or a costume store.

Collar - First, I measured my head. I drew a shape for the collar about five inches wider on either side. I traced this onto posterboard and cut it out. I glued down black velvet around all the edges for no other reason than I liked the way it looked. This was attached to my corset with giant safety pins (my hair covered them).

Choker - Strip of black fabric with ribbon glued on the ends to tie it.

Corset - Simple black corset from Charlotte Russe.

Sleeves - Oh, the sleeves. They were a little tricky for me. You need blue and red velvet and ribbon (mine was black). For each sleeve, cut a rectangle of each fabric that is about 12" long by 5" tall (measure your upper arm to be sure though). Put the blue velvet on top of the red velvet and sew the longest edges together on the top and bottom. A sewing machine would make it easier, but I did it by hand.  Lift the blue fabric up and cut about five 3.5" vertical slits.  You want to see the red through the slits.  You'll attach these to your arms with ribbon.  If you want a more last solution, you could sew in a hem for elastic.  But I only needed the sleeves to last for about 30 minutes, so I opted for lazy.  Run a piece of ribbon through the bottom of the sleeve, between the blue and red fabric.  Tie it around your upper arm.  Then, grab a friend and have them stuff the sleeves with paper towels or something similar so that they pouf out nicely.  Once they look okay, have your helper run another ribbon under the top and tie it securely around your arm.

Cincher - Blue straps and buckles were from JoAnn's Fabric. Pull them as tight as you can stand but remember that breathing is good.

Skirt - Just yellow satin-y fabric wrapped around and safety pinned at the top. I estimate it was about 1 yard. Fray the ends with scissors for a rougher look.

Shoes - Shiny red shoes were purchased at Payless.

Oh and don't forget the chains around the neck! You can use chunky chains from jewelry you have, buy them from a jewelry supply store, or look at the hardware store.
 
Have you guys done any Disney princess costumes that are different from the classics?

November 14, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Who Doesn't Need a Lightsaber Wall Sconce?

Photobucket

I am continually amazed by the number of geek themed things available for purchase.  It seems to me that the choices for home decor have increased a lot over the past ten years.  I list a few of my favorites in my latest post at Pink Raygun, Who Doesn't Need a Lightsaber Wall Sconce?.

November 13, 2010

Lots of Links

There really are a lot of links I've got saved up from the past couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

Chinese Profanity in Firefly - This article from Topless Robot covers the best curses in Firefly.  You'll learn about when they were used, the Chinese characters, and how to pronounce the phrase.  Awesome.


Dragon Scale bag - You would make the rest of your gaming group incredibly envious with this bag.  It also would work nicely as part of a renaissance faire or pirate costume.

Female Character Flowchart - An eye-opening and a bit sad look at stereotypical female characters.


Star Wars Set in Dubai? - This article showcases photography by Cedric Delsaux.  He took photos in Dubai and then came back home and shot Star Wars ships and figures.  Then he combined the too, and it looks like Star Wars just belongs.  The photos are seamless and striking.

Interview with Bear McCreary - Teresa Jusino interviews McCreary about Human Target, his blog, and yes, Battlestar Galactica.  If you are a fan of his music, you should check out this interview.  If you are not familiar with Bear McCreary and you enjoy wonderful scores, then please go Google him now.

Top 5 Reasons Why The Phantom Menace is the Best of the Prequels - Elliott Serrano discusses why The Phantom Menace is the best of the three.  I have to admit that I mostly fast forward through the movie until Duel of the Fates.  But.  Serrano makes some good points.


FREE Serenity Comic - Dark Horse and USA Today worked together to bring us a free comic about a regular day aboard Serenity.  It's called Downtime, and it's penned by Zack Whedon.  It will leave you wanting more, but I'm guessing most Firefly fans are like me - we always want more but we'll take what we can get.

Thoughts on TeslaCon by Cherie M. Priest - Cherie Priest (author of Boneshaker and Dreadnought among others) talks about why TeslaCon worked.  The convention was a full immersian steampunk gathering that capped attendance at just a few hundred people.  Her description of the event is really making me consider attending next year.

November 12, 2010

Quickie Reviews – Illyria, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, I Am an Avenger

Since I’m picking up something at the comic book store every Wednesday now, I’m trying a new thing. Every week, I’ll provide some quick thoughts on the issues I picked up. I know that a lot of sites do this, so why am I adding to the list? Well, you probably won’t find a lot of Batman or Spiderman reviews (at least, not as of right now) here. It will be more like what you see below. Not exactly indie comics, but not exactly super mainstream. Sometimes it might be; it just depends what catches my eye on the new releases list.

Here are my thoughts on some releases from 11/10. I also have Spike #2 and Knight Errant #2 to review, but I need to dig the #1 issues of each comic out of a pile before I read the new ones.

Illyria Haunted #1
IDW
Written by Scott Tipton and Mariah Huehner
Art by Elena Casagrande

I really need just one word for this comic. That word is “Wow” or maybe “Love.” I am a big fan of Angel, and though I was heartbroken by the appearance of Illyria I was also fascinated by her. It was small, but I did feel pity for this being. This godlike creature wandered into a world of humans that is nothing like what she knew. She is resented in her current form because she embodies a girl that was so well loved. Yeah, Whedon is nice like that. From the first few pages, I saw that the writers were also fans of Angel. They have positively nailed everything I remember about Illyria down. I hear her voice in my head as I read her lines. The way she carries herself, proud but faltering is right there in the artwork too. It was like I had one of my favorite shows back in my hands. Illyria is looking for answers, trying to figure out where she fits into this bizarre world. She has so many memories of Fred that she doesn’t know how to handle. She seeks advice from Angel and Spike. It’s fascinating to see into her thought process, part creature-that-was but influenced by Fred. It’s all woven together. The art reinforces the character, and that’s important because so much about Illyria is tied into her striking appearance. I can’t wait for issue 2.


I Am an Avenger #3
Marvel
The Hulk in “The Smashy Adventures of the Hulk” by Katie Cook

I’ll be honest; I picked up this comic solely because of Katie Cook. I love her work, and when I saw on Facebook that she had a story in this issue… well, I had to pick it up. The story is a one pager in the back of the issue, and it didn’t disappoint. Cook made Hulk insanely adorable. Hulk is kicked out of the Avengers, and we get to see how he handles the five stages of grief. As you might have guessed, he smashes things. But there are also cupcakes, laughs, and all over adorable. I’ll read the rest of the issue soon.


Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula #1
Wildstorm
Written by Ian Edginton
Art by Davide Fabbri with Tom Mandrake

This is a follow up to Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies (which I haven’t read yet). I like Sherlock Holmes; I like Dracula – why wouldn’t I pick this up? The tale begins at sea when a ship at sea is overcome by a mysterious schooner. All on board the ship die, and Holmes and Watson are asked to investigate what happen. As soon as they start investigating, everyone tied to the ship – the owners of the cargo and the charter party – turn up dead. They are killed by something that leaves them looking like bubonic plague victims. One odd clue remains; a hound jumped ashore after the ship came in. No one has seen it since. The characters are the comfortable Holmes and Watson you expect. We get snarkiness (though I’m sure Holmes would prefer a more elegant term), a little action, odd characters, and mystery. Count Vlad Dracul formally enters at the end of the issue. This issue is a great set-up for the series to come. It kept me engaged in the story, and I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough.

November 11, 2010

Shiny Webcomic Thursday - Marlowe the Monster

Meet Marlowe the monster.  He's cute.  He's shy.  And oh yeah, he's single.  There is a catch though - he lives with his mom.  She might be a little attached.  This guy is just one of the quirky creatures you'll meet in Marlowe the Monster by Shing Yin Khor.

Before you say it, yes I know, it's photographs.  Sometimes I do notice the obvious.  It is not a traditional pencilled, inked, and colored comic.  Don't judge or hold that against Marlowe, okay?  No monster bigotry is allowed.

I came across Marlowe and his creator at Long Beach Comic Con.  I decided to buy the printed issue of the webcomic in about two seconds.  It grabbed me that quickly.  I like monsters, I like photos, I like funny and the comic has all of these things.  Each comic is situational.  We get a glimpse into Marlowe's life.  You get to meet his mom, his sister's kids, and his dates.  All of the monster designs are wacky/wonderful and right on that line between creepy and adorable.  Each scene is set amidst dollhouse furniture and lots of tiny polymer clay creations.  Tiny food, tiny books, tiny pots and all of them are lovely.  Have I mentioned I'm a sucker for miniature things and clay?  The photographs are accompanied by just the right words to make you laugh or say "Awww, poor Marlowe."

Just to make sure you get it, I think this series is brilliant.  I'm kinda in love.  I ask that you go over, click through a few strips, and give it a chance.  I just bet you'll like it.  Oh, and if you happen to be going to Designer Con 2010 on November 20 in Pasadena, CA, Shing Yin Khor has a table there. 

Check out the first strip of monster shenanigans right here.

Marlowe the Monster
Updates every Wednesday

Want your webcomic to be featured here or know of one you think I would love?
The requirements to be featured are few, but both are very important to me. The webcomic has to be shiny and updated on a consistent basis. It is not as easy as you would think to find a webcomic that's updated when the creators intend it to be. It can be newer webcomics or ones that have been around for months or years. Email me the info.

November 10, 2010

Visiting the Set of Castle

Because I have an awesome friend who is currently working on the set of Castle, I got to visit the set about a week and a half ago.  I love the show, and I'm a huge fan of Nathan Fillion (duh).  If you are wondering why I consider this worthy of a blog post, it involves Nathan Fillion.  The end. 

Though I've been an alien extra in a science fiction B movie, I haven't visited a set that is anything like this.  The show is in its third season, and several permanent sets are built within the studio.  I endeavored not to be the squee'ing fangirl, but I mostly failed.  I said, "WOW" about a million times and practically skipped through the stage.  Someone asked if I was visiting from out of town, so I can only assume that I came across as an overly excited bumpkin from the Midwest.  Which I kind of am, but I've been in LA for four years.  So many people work in the "business" here that they forget what it's like for outsiders.  It's not our dayjob, and we think it's magical.

I arrived to the studio around midday.  My friend showed me around the set they were building for an upcoming episode, Last Call airing December 6.  The episode takes Castle & Beckett into some tunnels and passageways under New York City.  The passageway that was in progress was gorgeous.  I painted a single line on one of the bricks on the set, and I'm going to pretend that I can spot it when the episode airs.  After I drooled appropriately over the faux treatments (seriously, what people do with paintbrushes!), I visited the rest of the standing sets. 

We went through Castle's apartment.  I would like to move in there even more now.  I was very envious of the bookshelves in the office.  I had to clasp my hands to stop myself from touching things.  Messing up continuity is frowned upon.  I think I did accidentally end up in some camera phone pictures that someone was taking of Castle's desk for that purpose.  Then I turned the corner and we were headed towards the morgue when I saw the murder board!  I stopped in my tracks and declared this way too loudly.  Then we visited the morgue, I got spooked by a creepy dummy.  Some prop bottles of scotch whiskey were on the metal exam table, keep an eye out for them in the episode.  Then we walked into the interrogation room (insert more squee'ing) and the police station.  If you notice the "most wanted" posters in the background, the faces belong to the crew on the show.  Mostly the art department I think.  I could not stop myself from sitting in Castle's chair by Beckett's desk.


With the tour finished, there was just one thing left, hopefully meeting Nathan Fillion.  I wanted to give him the Millennium Falcon magnet that is cast from an original ILM mold (like the one in my post about the Millennium Falcon apple pie).  My friend asked the assistant director (I think), and she told us that Nathan was making a sandwich but would be out in a moment.  The mention of the Millennium Falcon intrigued him.  He walked out with an impressive looking sandwich and was nice enough to shake hands and be super nice.  He said thanks for coming out, and I think he rather liked the magnet.  Besides loving Star Wars, he also likes refrigerator magnets.  Who knew?  He seemed very busy, so I kept it short (which also prevented fangirl drooling).  It was a very awesome moment.

Hopefully the show has a long run AND my friend keeps working on it so I can visit again.  I didn't take near enough photos after all.

November 9, 2010

Don't Call Me Junior! - Lady Indiana Jones Costume

The night before Long Beach Comic Con I decided I wanted to cosplay Indiana Jones.  I did a really quick version of the costume for Halloween in 2009, and by quick, I mean I put it together in 30 minutes before I left for work in the morning.  It was fun and more importantly, it's comfortable.  I took a little more time with this version.  If you are looking for something quick without 100% accuracy, Indy is a good choice. 

When you're going for an approximation rather than an exact replica, think of the pieces that make the costume recognizable.  For Indiana Jones, I think of the hat, whip,* and shoulder bag.  Even though my shirt and pants aren't close to the right cut or colors, most people recognized the costume right away.  Here's where I got everything:

Hat and whip - Costume set from Party City, $16.99.  I'd actually planned to drive to Disneyland to get a replica hat (they sell them because of the Indiana Jones ride), but they sadly closed early the night I needed to go.
Shirt - In my closet, purchased from Target
Pants - In my closet, purchased from Charlotte Russe (I think)
Belt - Van Nuys Army Navy Surplus store, $9.99
Shoulder bag - The same surplus store, $16.99.  It has a cloth strap, but I just tucked that it and replaced it with leather.
Holster - I've had for a pirate costume for a long time.
Shoes -  Just brown boots with 1" heels (yeah, even 1" heels on concrete all day ended badly.  You'd think I would know better).
Props - It's not pictured, but I did carry around my version of a Holy Grail.  It actually looked more like one of the fake grails, but it still got the point across.

Planned Improvements
- A shirt that is the right color and style.
- A holster that at least is the right color as the one Indy wears.
- A nicer hat. This one is servicable, but I would love to own a better quality replica.

If you have time and want to go the more accurate route, I highly recommend visiting Indy Gear.  This site has details about every piece of Indy's costume and the key props from all four movies.  Better yet, the site has a beautiful list of quality vendors that will make you look so much like Indy that the senior Dr. Jones will be calling you Junior.

*Safety note: If you don't know how to use a whip, don't try it for the first time in public.  Or around breakables.

November 8, 2010

The Clone Wars: Seeing Padmé Differently

Something about Padmé Amidala rubbed me the wrong way in the prequels. Her attitude, lines like “Hold me like you did on Naboo, Ani-wani-Vaderkins” (okay, I improvised a little), and her lack of spunk left me disappointed. Notice that I do not include her multitude of outfits. I understand that being a queen and then a senator does require more than three changes of attire. Anyways. I felt like we had an opportunity to meet another incredible, strong female character like Leia. Instead, we got only the barest hint of Padmé’s strength. I felt that it was there, hovering just under the surface. We saw glimpses during moments like the Battle in the Geonosis Arena and when she made difficult decisions as the young Queen of Naboo. The potential for so much more was there though.

One of the many reasons I love The Clone Wars is that it gives us a chance to spend more time with characters like Padmé. We have another on-screen chance to see what she’s really made of. I’ve begun to look at her differently. Sure, she throws dinner parties. With great political power comes great responsibility for social frivolities. Since important connections are made and votes are swayed at these events, how frivolous are they though? Important transactions can happen among rounds of nuna drumsticks and jogan fruit cake. I see now that it’s unfair to translate these obligations into weaknesses. Politics shape the war, right to the front line battles. She is not the type to be swayed with threats, and she states everything she believes to be true and right. She does this even when she knows that severe repercussions could follow. She doesn’t act selfishly though. She weighs the good of the many against the good of the few. Spock would be proud.

She leaves the Senate halls whenever she thinks she can make a difference. When she has the opportunity, Padmé doesn’t hesitate to pick up a blaster. I mean, she took Aurra Sing down with a stunner. That’s no small feat even if the bounty hunter was cornered. We’ve seen Sing get out of situations tougher than that one and usually her opponents end up dead. She helped corner smugglers on Mandalore. In more than one situation, she has come across as fearless.

Now I get it. In The Clone Wars, we see that Padmé is a fighter. She’s a little girly too. She needs wardrobe options, but I sense that she likes the dresses. She seems to enjoy throwing dinner parties. But you know what? She can be both. After all, I get defensive about the fact that yes, I can like pink and still enjoy playing D&D. Though Leia might have been the more soldierly of the pair, she still managed to sport more than one impossible hairdo when a ponytail or bun would have been far more practical.

While I am not saying that Padmé is as awesome to me as other female characters like Leia or Aayla Secura, I do respect her now. I see her as more than Anakin’s girlfriend, and that wouldn’t have happened without The Clone Wars.

November 6, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Steampunk Costume - The Pilot

I know that a lot of people are tired of hearing about steampunk.  But many people were around before it got crazy popular and many will continue to be around when it dwindles.  So there (yep, I'm super mature).

This week over at my Geek Fab column on Pink Raygun, I talk about creating an airship pilot costume.

Happy Carl Sagan Day!

We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands.



It's the second annual Carl Sagan Day.  A day dedicated to Sagan and the beauty of science, skepticism, and inquiry.  It was created by a few Florida based groups last year in honor of his November 9th birthday and rapidly caught on.  He would be 76 this year.  Most of us know him as an author and the creator of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, an original television series that aired on PBS and covered many topics such as our place in the wide universe and the origin of life.  Carl Sagan contributed an immeasurable amount of knowledge to the world, and it is an emptier place without him.  One of my favorite things about him was the way he translated the most complex of subjects into everyday language that all of us (that aren't astrophysicists) can understand.

How can you celebrate?  Well, the Center for Inquiry site is full of information and suggestions.  My suggestions are to at least watch the below video and listen to the radio links.  And these:
- If you own COSMOS, watch it.  If you don't own it, look up clips on YouTube.
- Read one of Carl Sagan's many books
- Visit a local observatory.
- Get away from the city and gaze at the stars.  They will especially humble you if you are in the desert or mountains with a breathtaking view.
- Watch the 1997 film, Contact; it was adapted from the Carl Sagan book of the same name.
- Buy a themed pendant for the day from SurlyRamics.  Designs include "I am 100% star stuff," "COSMOS," and more.
- Update your Facebook, Twitter, whatever with your favorite Carl Sagan quote.




Here are two favorite NPR stories about Carl Sagan that I recommend listening to:
- a 1994 interview with Sagan about manned space exploration
- an unbelievably touching piece about a mix tape of the human experience that brought Ann Druyen, Carl Sagan's wife, together
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