January 31, 2011

Contributing to Los Angeles Times Hero Complex

So… I have some exciting news. From time to time, I’ll be contributing to the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex blog. (insert excited squees here)

In my first article, I discuss why I’m excited to see HBO’s Game of Thrones:
Five Reasons Game of Thrones May Be a Royal Success

Even if you're not interested in Game of Thrones, you should click over and start following Hero Complex.  You'll find lots to make your geek heart happy.

January 29, 2011

Quickie Reviews: Illyria #3, Artifacts #5, & Conan Road of Kings #2

Illyria Haunted #3
Written by Scott Tipton and Mariah Huehner
Art by Elena Casagrande

Illyria walks into a world she does not know. She makes her way to The Deeper Well. Though she doesn't really want to return to the place where her spirit was kept in prison for so long, she needs answers. She needs to know why she is here. The Guardian of the Well looks like as close as a demon can get to a cute old grandmother. Though she tries to deter Illyria from her path, Illyria is strong. Stronger than most living things on Earth. She enters the well, but she is cautioned not to touch anything. She wanders among the rotted gods but finds her old prison. In an oddly heart-touching moment, we see how sad Illyria is about what she is lost. I say oddly because really, she wasn't a creature we should feel for. She was about violence, chaos, and pain. But now, she cannot be that thing anymore and she is trapped in a human body and she's confused. That does spark compassion. I won't give away the rest of the plot, but big things happen.

Issue 3 is packed with emotion and action. I love when those things strike an equal balance. The way Tipton writes the story really makes you experience Illyria and everything she is feeling. The art has the same effect. You can read so much from a character in any scene just from the way they are standing. Casagrande continues to capture the essence of Illyria with every line.

Artifacts #5
Top Cow
Written by Ron Martz
Pencils by Whilce Portacio

The fifth issue of Artifacts opens with a little pizza delivery humor. It's nice to mix a little normal into a world with cyborgs and Artifacts bearers. It segues quickly into an action sequence with Aphrodite IV. She's clearly up to no good; she is trying to recruit people to join in the fight against Sara and the other “good” guys. In the meantime, Sara and Jackie continue the search for their daughter. They are sidetracked by events that cannot be aside. Just as they are reporting the latest to those on their side, Aphrodite and her new allies show up. We see the battle start, but who knows how it will end?

I enjoy Artifacts, but the story jumps a lot and abruptly between characters. If I didn't review the summary of the last issue at the beginning of the current issue, I'd be lost. The “Players of Artifacts” section at the end of each issue is invaluable. I still have to occasionally refer back to past issues too. I have learned just to roll with things that don't make sense in the Artifacts series because one way or another, you'll figure it out.

Conan Road of Kings #2
Dark Horse
Written by Roy Thomas
Pencils by Mike Hawthorne

Conan is off the ship now and escorting his lovely new lady, Olivia, home via the Road of Kings. He has to earn money for that journey first, so they detour to the city of Shadizar. He and fellow pirate Krimsar plan and execute a robbery. They still from some royal, and they get a considerable booty. Conan does have a knack for thieving after all. Olivia is thrilled about the spoils, but she wants to get home and doesn't want Conan to fall back into his old ways. She reminds him that they have plenty to get on with their journey. He gives in. Krimsar mentions one more plan though. This robbery could bring them untold fortunes. Conan can't resist, but he's smart enough to hide it from Olivia. In the dark night hours, he and Krimsar set out to the merchant Nitos' mansion to become rich.

The second issue of Road of Kings really pulled me in. Conan strikes a perfect mix of dashing, brawny, and kick-ass. His sidekick is a nice, bumbling offset. I have to say that one thing I love about the Conan comics that I've read is that the locations are more like characters instead of just a backdrop. Hawthorne does a great job making Shadizar (the wicked city) moody. The images of the city emanate a cutthroat and unfriendly vibe. Looking forward to issue 3!

January 27, 2011

Shiny Webcomic Thursday - Girl Genius

Agatha Clay.  She has a special place in my webcomic loving heart.  Girl Genius was the first webcomic I remember reading.  Strong  female lead, humor, entertaining cast, fantastic art and colors, great story, fabulous settings, and a talking cat.  It's like it was made for me.  Well me and several hundred thousand other readers.*  For me, it has the perfect mix of everything that a comic should be.  The story has been updated by Phil and Kaja Foglio since 2002.  That's almost forever in internet time.  I can't imagine the commitment required to update a comic three times a week for that many years, and I don't think there's any end in site.

What will you find in this comic besides the fabulous-yet-vague things listed about?  Agatha Clay is the primary character, and the tale starts with her.  She is the Girl Genius after all.  Though she comes from humble beginnings, her life takes a very sharp turn into interesting.  Interesting quickly turns into craziness and danger.  Exciting chases ensue, daring adventurers appear, and there is a huge steamship.  The tale covers action, adventure, a little romance, and mad science.  It's actually hard for me to stop talking about how many good things this webcomic offers.  I realize I'm still being vague, but I don't want to give away the story to new readers.  If this webcomic is new to you, I encourage you to spend a few minutes checking it out.

Since the story has been steaming along for so long, it can be overwhelming for new readers to jump in.  You've got several options.  Check out the "About GG" section on the right side of the website.  You'll find information for new readers, FAQs, cast bios, and even a summary of the story so far if you can't resist diving into the middle of the story.  I recommend going back though.  Sure, you'll spend a little more time - but don't you want to see how far the story has come?  The characters have all taken journeys.  It's all available for your reading pleasure for free on the internet, or if you're like me, you can buy the printed copies so that you can flip a page instead of click a button. 

Check out the first strip of the gaslamp fantasy here.

Girl Genius
Updates Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

If you are already a reader of Girl Genius, what are some of your favorite things about the comic?  No spoilers please.

* I actually don't know what their readership numbers are, but I'd guess that's a minimum.

January 26, 2011

Pink Raygun Post: Interview with Elizabeth Amber-Love Delaney

I've still got a lot to learn about cosplay.  I've really only just started.  Some cosplayers really inspire me to be more creative, and Elizabeth Amber-Love Delaney is one of them.  I talk with her about cosplay and Wonder Woman Day over at my new post at Pink Raygun!

January 25, 2011

Geeky Cross Stitch

So, I'm sure you've seen the fantastic Locutus of Borg Serenity Prayer cross stitch around the internet lately.  If you haven't, click the link.  It will make you happy.  I've seen a few other pieces of geek themed cross stitch, but I had no idea just how much there was.  I clicked through pages of fandom inspired designs, space chart needlepoint, and so much more.  It was hard to pick favorites, but these nine designs are especially awesome.

No Atlantis is Too Underwater or Fictional - This sampler about Atlantis is from Steotch, the same creators of the Star Trek Serenity prayer sampler.  These are just a couple examples of the funny offerings you can find at their site and Etsy store.

Han Shot First - I love that this design has the feel of many Amish needlepoint works I've seen while talking about one of my favorite space pirates (don't make me choose between Han and Mal).  This is actually a pattern you can purchase.  Click the link to visit the designer's Etsy store.  You'll find everything from Godzilla to quotes to zombies to Harry Potter.

Dr. Horrible - If you are my kind of people, these words immediately get the song from Act II of Dr. Horrible stuck in your head.  It would be worth hanging up in your house just to see who recognizes it!

iPod - I like when technology inspires cross stitch.  Needlepoint has been around in some form for thousands of year, and now we use it to emulate new gadgets.  It's a great... something.

Zelda Map - This map from Zelda took the stitcher four months to make!  Four months!  Most of my craft projects die sad, dusty deaths under my desk in about a month.  Click to view the image bigger so you spot all the details.

Dalek vs. R2-D2 - I'm not sure who would win in a fight between these two.  It's a good thing the Dalek is sending love vibes to my favorite droid.  This stitcher has an extensive gallery of nerd themed embroidery.  Just follow the link!

Mario & the Princess - Simple and adorable.  The end.

Lara Croft - Though the setting is reminiscent of a 1970s needlepoint pattern, something is out of place.  What could it be?  Oh, probably the gun-toting video game femme fatale Lara Croft.  This kitschy design is by Becky Schaefer.  It's not her only Croft-centric work either.

Home is Where the Lego Is - Not only is home where the Lego is, but if you have enough Legos with you, you can build a home.  That might take more Legos than any one person can carry, but it does inspire me to make a Lego travel pack.  Then I'll always have a tiny piece of home with me.

Now I feel like digging out my embroidery hoop and stitching.  We'll see if anything actually comes of that.

January 24, 2011

Katie Cook's F**K YOU, BOX Cat Mini-Book

Do you have a grumpy feline in your life?  Do you feel like your cat is cursing you every time she looks at you?  Do you like to laugh?

I'm hoping you replied yes to at least the last question.  I'm going to assume you did.  These reasons plus many more are why you need to buy the digital download of artist Katie Cook's mini book about the inner dialogue of her cat: F**K YOU, BOX.

- Get inside your cat's head.
- Learn how to really annoy your cat.  Also learn why you really shouldn't annoy your cat.
- Read about how cats exact revenge.
- Find out how evil cats really are!

For $2 you get fun art, hilarious cat moments, and quick delivery.  I grabbed a print copy of one of these at San Diego Comic-Con.  When I unburied it from my stack of con stuff and read it (I won't mention the embarassing amount of time that passed), I nearly fell off my chair.  When I recovered, I immediately made everyone in my general proximity read it.  Now, I'm encouraging you to do the same.  If you already bought a print copy at a con this year, you should still get the e-version because it has additional pages of kitty hijinks!

Buy F**K YOU, BOX!

I should mention that this book is not for the children.  It has almost as many swear words as an episode of Deadwood.  Cook has plenty of other items for all ages.  She recently transformed characters from the Marvel universe into cats.  She draws the cutest Star Wars stuff you've ever seen.  Oh, she has an adorable webcomic called Gronk that is full of cuteness and lots of geeky references.
Katie Cook's Spiderkitty

January 22, 2011

Geeky Links of the Week

Buddhist Temple decorated with Superman, Neo, & more - This Buddhist temple in Thailand is decorated with all kinds of bizarre sci-fi!

Win Original Serenity Artwork - Scroll to the bottom of the page to read the .pdf on how to enter a contest that will award you with original inks from the Serenity Cutaway print series.  The contest is a fun scavenger hunt to look through the prints of the Firefly class ship to find random props from the show.

Anatomy Ballgown at Fashion Week - This could be the best way ever to learn which bones are connected to which muscles.  This dress actually makes veins look fashionable.  Click the link to be taken to the designer's Flickr account where you can see one more anatomy inspired dress.

The X-Men family tree - Those mutants sure do get around.  This family tree helps untangle who is related to each other and how.  I didn't realize there was so much dating in X-Men.

Geeky Astrological Signs - Remember the day when the internet freaked out and declared that none of our astrological signs were right!  And we all went along with it?  That was fun.  Since it's changing anyways, let's make up 12 new geeky ones!

Geeky Ice Cube Trays - I had no idea you could turn your ice cubes into this many nerdtastic shapes.

The Burrows Gingerbread House - For a contest, a crafter made a gingerbread house inspired by "The Burrows."  In case you don't remember, that's the Weasley's house in Harry Potter.  Wow.  And yes, I think gingerbread is appropriate year-round.

Interview with Geek Queen, Bonnie Burton - Woodsy of MTV Geek's "Woodsy's World of Star Wars" interviews geek lady Bonnie Burton about Star Wars, writing, Bettie page, and more.

Princess Peach goes Zombie - Artist Kody Koala started this fun sculpture with store bougth vinyl pieces.  Check out the link for more photos and also to see more custom action figures (including a zombified Yoshi).

January 21, 2011

Throwing a Firefly Shindig

You can have a spectacular Firefly themed shindig even if you don't have a floating chandelier or a spaceship.  You just need time, a lot of fabric, props, helpful friends, and talented folks!  That's not so hard, right?  Right.

Photo by Dina Kampmeyer
I only decided about three weeks before my 30th birthday that I wanted to have a big shindig.  I asked around for ideas, but the answer was there the whole time.  Firefly.  I wanted to go themed.  I wanted it to be wonderful and maybe slightly over the top.  I sent out an invite and encouraged people to wear costumes.  That was the easiest part.  Soon I dug into hours of clicking through screen caps and thinking about costumes and props.  I settled on an Inara's shuttle theme for the living room, some ship parts throughout the rest of the house, and a bar area in the backyard called the Maidenhead (yeah, the bar from the pirate party is still up).  It was a bit ambitious.  Or crazy.

I started with sketches.  Then I made the wish list of every prop and decoration I would want.  I debated between a Kaylee coveralls costume and something Inara inspired (I'm obsessed with the peach dress she wears throughout the series).  I got distracted by costumes and read about multiple ones for many more hours than I should have.  I made a food and drink list.  Oh, and somewhere in there I took a day to watch the show and movie again.  I was only going to watch one or two episodes; six hours later I figured, why stop?  It is the ultimate research after all.

My house was in a state of chaos the week leading up to the party.  We moved furniture, removed pictures from the walls, and boxed things up.  Theme parties are serious business.  I made list after list, ran a painful amount of errands, and prepped what I could in advance.  The real work came when my slaves friends arrived on the day of the party.  We furiously stapled fabric to wood beams that were barely attached to the walls (please don't tell my landlords).  I baked a cake while amazing friends transformed my backyard/patio into a cozy patio area with moody lighting.  They stocked the bar, they helped keep me calm, and they made it a fun day.  Oh and my dear guy even re-created Wash's console on top of our piano using a TV monitor, foam core, and a digital frame.  We remembered the dinosaurs.  We also remembered the little things that make it recognizable as Serenity.  Little Buddhas and a tea pot with wood serving cups in Inara's shuttle, the kitchen stencil pattern on foam core stapled to the walls around the food table, boxes with "Bobble Headed Geisha" labels, and Mal's discharge papers.

The party came together.  People walked in the door - about a quarter of the guests came in costume - and were amazed.  I think we set a certain mood and really surprised folks with our attention to details.  I was proud of mini-Serenity in my house.  I gave as many people as I could the tour of the ship, the food table, and directed them to the bar (a friend even bartended for me - that made life easier).  I had folks dressed like space cowboys wandering around my house nibbling on bao.  After a few Mudder's Milks, I gathered partygoers around Wash's console, put on Jaynestown, and we sang a rousing round of the "Hero of Canton."  We followed it with the theme song shortly thereafter.  Then we kinda watched Jaynestown for a while, and everyone was okay with that.  Yeah, it was the best party ever.  I hope that everyone had as awesome of a time as I did.

Pic taken by Adam Levermore

Now for the nitty-gritty detail stuff.

  •  Bao - Saffron made it for Mal, you can buy it (or make it if you must) for your guests.  Check out dim sum restaurants; they might sell it.
  • "Good Dogs" - Marinated strips of chicken on a skewer, label with a cardboard sign
  • Some Kind of Hot Cheese - It's the perfect kind of food to have on a buffet table at a fancy party.  I used this fondue recipe and served it with bread and sliced apples.
  • Strawberries - Ideally, you'd serve these in a box
  • Fortune Cookies
  • Core Planet Couscous - In the Visual Companion, one of the propmasters mentions using this in the first meal the crew eats together in the episode "Serenity"
  • Fruity Oaty Bars - You can make granola bars, but from experience, one's I've bought are tastier.  I found a kind with fruit and oats and cut the bars into thirds.
  • Oriental Snack Mix - Mine came from Trader's Joes!
  • Chocolate "Protein" Cake - I used two boxes of cake mix and four 8" round pans. I used dark chocolate icing between the layers and a milk chocolate frosting on the outside.  The messier you are the better.  It's supposed to look that way.

  • Mudder's Milk - You can make this version with wheat germ and stout for the sake of authenticity, or you can make White Russians.  I went with the latter.
  • Sake
  • Blue Sun - Double+ blue kamikaze shots
Reference & Supplies
  • Can't Take the Sky - Great site with screencaps from the television show
  • Leave Me The White - Screencaps from the movie
  • - Visual companions from the series - parts 1 & 2, great reference for costumes and props (the one from the movie is pretty much just the script with some images)
  • LiveJournal Firefly Costuming community - plenty of historical posts with links to dig through
  • Oriental Trading Company - Chopsticks, fortune cookies, dinosaurs, and parasols
  • Ikea - Great for square plates, mugs, fabric (check their clearance/returns section), and serving trays
  • India Overseas Trading Company - So many wonderful things on this site from hookahs to nautical stuff to Buddhas
  • Quantum Mechanix - I got the Firefly blueprints reference pack, but they also have Blue Sun travel posters and lots of Firefly awesomeness!
  • I also found things at Cost Plus and Party City.  Friends let me borrow a lot of things, and I happened to have all the fabric.
 Click to see more photos from the party!

And yes, I want to leave my house looking like Serenity.

January 19, 2011

A Slayer Turns 30

Happy Birthday, Buffy Summers.

I can relate a little.  Well, on the turning 30 part that is.  Not so much on the killing vampires part.  Your birthdays have been less than ideal in the past.  Slayer powers have been taken away, boyfriends went full on evil, or you had family issues.  This is the start of a new decade though.  Consider this - it's a miracle that you are still alive.  I haven't done a proper study, but I'm relatively certain that Slayers don't come with a long life span.  Sure, your injuries might be a little more achy on cold nights stalking graveyards and your staking arm may not be as might as it once was, but you're here.  And you're stronger than ever.

Here's to saving the world a lot... more.

Celebrate Buffy's birthday and the release of the final season 8 comic at these parties!
Dark Horse events around the US
Geek Girl Con sponsored events in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco

Can't make it to a party?  Celebrate at home!
- Have a Buffy birthday episode marathon.
- Buy the final issue of Season 8 and read it and back issues with a glass of red wine.
- Make red velvet cupcakes.
- Read (or write) Buffy fanfic.  I highly encourage Buffy vs Edward from Twilight smackdowns.
- Give one Buffy the Vampire Slayer virgin an issue of the comic or lend them a season of the TV series.
- Sharpen your stakes... um, what?  Doesn't everyone have one?

January 18, 2011

New Game of Thrones Teaser

I picked up George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones by accident.  I thought I was starting a finished trilogy.  After reading Wheel of Time and Sword of Truth, I longed for a complete story.  Somewhere in the middle of the second novel of the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings, I learned that it was the series was only at the beginning.  No clear end was in sight.  Too late though.  I was invested in the intricate tales of power, politics, and games.  The seven kingdoms of Westeros were too fascinating to walk away from.

Fast forward several years.  We are awaiting the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, with all the class of a dog drooling over bacon.  We have something to keep our appetite at bay though.  The excitement I felt when Martin announced that Game of Thrones would become a HBO series at his blog can be summed in two words: "Frak, yes."  I was worried that something would go wrong in the delicate world of Hollywoodland, but it's here.  HBO announced that the premiere date will be Sunday, April 17.  They also just released a new trailer!  Look at the Iron Throne!  I have not felt this level of fangirl squee since Battlestar Galactica.

MTV Geek News has a lot of new pictures from the set, including direwolf puppies!

January 17, 2011

Geeky Links of the Week

10 Infamous Action Figure Variants - Learn about variants (that sometimes just have the slightest difference) that are worth a pretty penny.

10 Essential Nerd Foods - I think this is the perfect D&D marathon menu.  I have way too many of these items in my cupboard.

Amazing Nightmare Before Christmas themed tree - MTV talks with Greg Horn about his stunning themed tree.  Learn about the ornaments, but more importantly - see lots of photos for inspiration.  I want to do something similar next year.

Brian Chan's Awesome Origami - Creatures, V (from V for Vendetta), and WALL-E are among the featured images in this impressive gallery.

Make your own TRON bag! - I find this much more practical than making a Tron outfit, but I won't judge if you carry this in addition to it.  I recommend watching the how-to just to see the possibilities of solder.

Nightmare Before Christmas Cakes Pops - Really cute lollipops!  I would never have the patience to make them, but they are very cute.

January 14, 2011

Quickie Reviews: Spike #4 and Knight Errant #4

Spike #4
Written by Brian Lynch
Art by Nicola Zanni

The fourth issue of the Spike series is titled “You Haven't Changed a Bit.” You see, Spike and Drusilla reunite. Spike reacts predictably at first. You see him start falling under her spell. Their history does have a lot of pull. He manages to shake himself out of it. She's still Drusilla. She murders, but even worse (according to Spike), she cheats on her boyfriends. Spike is busy enough without having his old flame around to muck things up. There's vampires and demons possessing humans, and they're all trapped in Vegas. They're under attack from dragon-like creatures and of course, mutant winged showgirls. It is Vegas! Don't forget that Wolfram and Hart are underfoot trying to execute a master plan that involves Spike's soul. Yeah, there's a lot going on. It's a fun read though with all that action, I confess that I had to stop and regroup a couple of times to get things straight. I liked the fast changes in setting and emotions though. The characters are just what you expect. Drusilla is malicious and unlikeable as over, while Spike is just the opposite. The art and colors in this issue scream Vegas, and the mutant showgirls are terrifying and fantastic. I'm looking forward to issue five!

Star Wars Knight Errant #4 - Aflame
Dark Horse
Written by John Jackson Miller
Pencils by Ivan Rodriguez

Kerra Holt managed to prevent the destruction of a mining colony, but she inadvertently began a Sith vs. Sith war. Now she has to determine how to use the rivalry between the Sith Lords to her advantage, and it's not looking good. This issue brings us right back into the action on Chelloa. Holt reminds me a bit of Zayne Carrick. She's a little reckless but incredibly determined. She focuses so totally on her mission that she doesn't always see other possibilities. She needs the help of fellow Jedi Gorlan Palladane to get back on track. They might have figured out a way to at least prevent the planet from being destroyed, but then again, the Sith Lord's plan isn't what it seems to be. I enjoyed the interaction between Holt and Palladane in this issue, but I really felt like it was mostly set up for the fifth (and last) issue of the storyline.

January 12, 2011

Frak Me! Fictional Curse Words in Sci-Fi & Fantasy

I've unintentionally incorporated the word “frak” into my everyday language. Non nerd co-workers no longer have to ask where it comes from. Well, that or they got tired of hearing about my undying passion for Battlestar Galactica every time they did ask. It's far from the only swear word substitute I've heard. Novel writers who want their books to remain all ages and screenplay writers who want to keep off the FCC radar often make up curse words that communicate the emotion but in different letters than the standard cuss word.

Though some people frown upon it, swearing is part of most languages. I can only speak English, but I know that when speaking English and in the U.S., the act of swearing heavily depends on the surrounding environment and people. It's considered taboo in many situations, and that's when fake swear words come in handy. The thing I really like about seeing them used in novels or on television is that it makes me think about language. When I'm saying “frak” in a public place, I'm really saying something else. It could be any substitute word though. It's the feeling behind it. It's very arbitrary.

I could continue an analysis of language, but instead I'll just give you a list of my favorite fictional swear words and phrases.

Film & TV

Battlestar Galactica
Frak - I attended a BSG panel at San Diego Comic-Con a couple of years ago. Kevin Smith moderated the panel, and I specifically remember him giving Ron Moore “ups” for using it for an obvious substitute and having it be acceptable.
Example: Mother-frakking toasters!

Frell - Substitute for the infamous f-word.
Example: I want this miracle of life the frell out of me

Example: Did the primary buffer panel just fall off my gorram ship?

Books & Comics

Wheel of Time
Blood and ashes
Mother's milk in a cup
Sheepswallop and bloody buttered onions
Burn me
These are all usually used as stand alone phrases.

The Sword of Truth
Example: Bags, and Double Bags!

Star Wars: Legacy
Example: Kark it!

Phoenix Guard or Vlad Taltos books
Cracks in the Orb!
Example: Cracks in the Orb, haven't the Dragon wizards proved it?

Get out there and don't offend people with the new words you've learned!
Feel free to share more fake cuss words in the comments.  I know there are lots more out there.

Pink Raygun Post: Throwing a Fandom Themed Party

I am knee deep in preparation for an upcoming Firefly themed shindig.  It's not my first themed party, but I learn something new everytime.  I figured it's an appropriate time to share my tips on throwing a fandom themed party.  You can read the post over at my Geek Fab column at Pink Raygun.

January 11, 2011

Han Solo's in Firefly?!

I've been spending more time than usual looking up obscure references for all the nooks and crannies of Serenity.  In one of my many prop searches in the very late (um, early) hours when my eyes were drooping, I thought I saw Han Solo and Firefly in the same sentence.  That's actually not so uncommon since Captain Malcom Reynolds is like Solo in more than a few ways.  I blinked.  No, the website said Han Solo in Carbonite and Firefly in the same sentence. 


As it turns out, a Han Solo in Carbonite was brought on set since Nathan Fillion is such a huge Star Wars fan.  The props team joked around and added it to sets whenever they could, it apparently became a running joke.  It didn't get grabbed out of every scene before shooting though. 

Heart of Gold - look just above Mal's left shoulder

Jaynestown - look just to the right of the bartender's head

Objects in Space - look to the left of Book on the counter

The Message - look above Kaylee's hammock on the top right

Serenity - look on Badger's shelf (it looks a bit dusty) - spotted by reader smitsc05

There's a rumor that there's one hidden in every episode, but these are the only ones I could dig up.  It makes me extraordinarily happy to know about this hidden gem in the Firefly 'verse.

January 10, 2011


Today is the one year anniversary of the Geek with Curves blog!  Chocolate protein cake for everyone!

One year since I sat down in front of Blogger, trying to find an available name, and brainstorming every combination of geek and girl.  One year since I thought, this is the year I'm going to get out there with my blogging after over six years of mostly just keeping to myself.  I also thought "this is the year that more than two people will read the things I write."  I had a little hope but no expectations.  If nothing else, I would always be typing about things that make my geek heart happy.  It's been a delight to realize that other people find something fun here too.

I have met so many wonderful people in the last year.  Between here, Twitter, and at conventions - I've met enough to know that geeks really are the best sort of people.  They are there for you even if you've only exchanged a few blog comments or @ replies on Twitter.  This blog has opened the path to so many great connections and relationships.  It makes me mushy thinking about.

So on that sentimental note, I'll just say: thank you.  Thank you for stopping by, for reading, for commenting, for linking, for giving me encouragement or feedback, and for being there.

January 8, 2011

Geeky Links of the Week

Ralph McQuarrie's lost concept art for a Star Trek movie - Star Trek: Planet of the Titans - the movie never happened, but McQuarrie did some design work for it.  You can see how much different the USS Enterprise looks.  Click the link to read more and view a gallery of more concept art!

18 Sci Fi / Fantasy Bars - I didn't realize just how many bars were out there in make believe worlds.  As a maker of occasional lists, I know you can't cover everything, but I will point out one glaring omission: no Ten Forward.  Still, it's a very fun read.

How to make a stempunk Mr. Potato Head - Because, well why not?  Even if you don't want to make a punky Potato Head, you should read the tutorial for some ideas on painting techniques.  You never know when it might come in handy.

Geeky snow sculptures - I like when geeks play in the snow.  Check out lots of creations from Jabba to Space Invaders.

The Guild Hall - Read propmaker Greg Aronowitz's blog about the making of the Guild Hall for season 3 of The Guild.

Luke's Return of the Jedi Lightsaber - You see the lightsaber in that amazing photo?  Someone made that.  I'm not kidding.  Click the link to see a primarily photo how-to of the build.  I'm crazy impressed.

11 Heroes Nerd Girls Want to Date and Why They Shouldn't - Funny and stocked with pictures of pretty boys.

Make your own Rorscach mask - very cool how-to on making your own moving (and creepy) Rorschach mask.

The Secret Life of Toys - This Etsy seller photographs action figures in a variety of situations for your enjoyment.  Superheroes, Star Wars, cartoon characters - if it's an action figure, it's fair game.  The images are guaranteed to make you smile.  High quality prints are available!

13 Sidekicks Who Are Cooler Than Their Heroes - Sometimes sidekicks are more likeable and helpful than their hero counterparts.  They don't always get the recognition they deserve, but this article is a nice tribute.

January 7, 2011

Quickie Reviews: Hellboy Sleeping Dead #1, Ozma #3, & Conan Road of Kings #1

Hellboy Sleeping Dead #1
Dark Horse
Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Scott Hampton

Every time I pick up a Hellboy comic, I am reminded that I need to read more Hellboy. This two issue miniseries is a break from the regular storyline. We find our brave hero battling a vampire. Don’t you dare sneer at it because of the word vampire. There is, of course, a twist. Let’s just say that it doesn’t look good for humans. The art is glorious and moody with bright splashes of red against dark backgrounds. The visual design is so standout that I was distracted (just a little) from the story. The comic as a whole has a sort of supernatural noir feel. Go pick it up now!

Conan Road of Kings #1
Dark Horse
Written by Roy Thomas
Pencils by Mike Hawthorne

I’ve only read a little Conan. It’s been mostly stories from the beginning of the comic with Dark Horse. The bold style, the locations the comic traveled to, and the adventurous stories drew me in. So when I saw that a new storyline was starting up I figured I would at least check out the first issue. The new Road of Kings storyline sets our favorite barbarian on a new path. Conan’s a pirate. The swashbuckling lifestyle is new, and it opens a lot of potential stories. Pirate Conan seems to be a bit more lighthearted though, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I guess he’s allowed to have some of those moments. He also has the token buxom wench. The art is entertaining with just the right amount of gore. The colors are moody. I’ll probably check out the second issue.

Ozma of Oz # 3
Written by Eric Shanower
Art by Skottie Young

The tale of Dorothy being lost in the enchanted land of Ev continues. She has just discovered and activated Tik-Tok, an automated mechanical droid of sorts. He knows the way to Oz, and he can protect her from the malicious wheelers that hover on the outskirts of Ev. This is a delightful miniseries in the land of Oz, and I’m happy to be tromping through L. Frank Baum’s Oz. The story is fun, but with this comic, I’m mostly obsessed with the wonderful illustrations. Artist Skottie Young really creates some fantastic characters and conveys so much through each drawing. It’s easy to see with one look that Dorothy is full of spunk. This issue is very amusing and ends with Dorothy running into the ruler of Ev – Princess Langwidere. She is subtly evil, which is the worst kind of evil to be. She’s quick to change her mind, and I sense that it doesn’t always lead to good things. The rather abrupt end of the issue hints at some reunions for Dorothy.

Legoland Gets Star Wars!

Back in the day, few things made me happier than my bucket of random Legos and accompanying huge base plate.  Sometime during that pesky growing up business, my Legos were lost or given away to a cousin or sold at a yard sale.  I forgot what was I missing until I was recently gifted a set of Star Wars Legos.  It's a magic combination.  I assembled it in no time and immediately needed more Legos in my life.  The pile has grown since then, and I'm even making a base pad to fit my coffee table and stocking a new bucket of labels.  So, imagine my happiness when I heard today that Legoland California is getting a whole Star Wars area!

I'd considered going to Legoland just on the principle that the gift shops have to be awesome.  The news about Star Wars seals the deal though.  I will definitely be going, and I know that I'm not the only fan they'll draw in.  They're not just adding a few figures to their current collection either.  No - it will be a whole area in the kid's land (Miniland).  One and a half million glorious Lego bricks dedicated to Star Wars.  Go ahead and drool, I'll wait.

In addition to life-size Lego models of Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Darth Vader, visitors can walk through seven scenes from the movies and Clone Wars complete with special effects.  A team of eight model designers and two animation electricians in Germany has been working for over a year with Lucasfilm on the 1:20 scale models.  Once in the Carlsbad location, master builders will bring the scenes to life.  There will be one scene per film and one for the animated series.  The attractions will feature Naboo, Geonosis, Kashyyyk, Mustafar, Tatooine, Hoth, Endor, and Christophis.  I would tell you what scene goes with what film, but I know I don't really need too.  You can read more details about the sets and characters featured in each scene here.

The new Star Wars addition opens on March 31.  I'll see you there!

Cross-posted at Geek Girls Network

January 6, 2011

The Star Trek Collectible You Wish You Had

I'm lucky that family members appreciate and understand that I am a geek (they did present me with a Dr. Horrible DVD in the coolest way possible after all).  This Christmas, they practically buried me in lightsabers, Yoda lights, and Clone Wars action figures.  I think I got more toys than all the children combined.  As my pile dwindled down, I noticed a huge framed something by the tree.  I was surprised to find out it was for me, and it came with a small box.

I tore into the box, reached in, and pulled out a Star Trek encyclopedia.  After so many Star Wars items, it took my brain a second to switch and then I was thrilled.  I think the other family members thought it was a joke.  Though Trek is not as dear to me as Wars, I do have love for it and I was super excited about the book.  Then I ripped the paper off the huge frame and nearly fell out of my chair with laughter.  Why?  Well, just behold this fabulous creation:

The picture does not do it justice.  The stencilled letters, the careful placement of the TV guide covers, the color choices, and the size (24" wide by about 30" tall) - all are wonderful and tacky at the same time.  I love it!

How does one acquire such a fine piece of art?  The first step involves alcohol.  My not quite brother-in-law was at a bar in Red Lodge, Montana and met someone who happened to mention they had Star Trek items in an upcoming yard sale.  She just didn't think they were going to sell.  He said, "Hey, I know someone that likes Star Trek, I'll take them."  And so he did, sight unseen.  He couldn't pack them back to California on the plane, so the seller shipped them over.  I won't tell you how much the whole ordeal ended up costing him.  I guess they've been waiting for the perfect occasion to pass it along.

Yeah, you could take away some morals from this story.  Never make deals for geek paraphenilia in a bar. In Montana.  Never buy said items without seeing them.  Consider obtaining the advice of an artist or professional framer.  But frankly?  I don't think TV Guides have ever looked better.

January 4, 2011

The Perfect Fantasy Novel Meal

You're on an epic quest or maybe just a journey to the closest big city.  You've fought orcs or direwolves, and you're bone weary.  You've slogged through rain and mud or dragged yourself through unbearably hot weather.  You round a corner on a well trodden King's Road, and finally.  You see the dim glow of village lights.  They are far away, hard to see - as if the lights are covered by wax paper, but they are there.  You can't wait to find the local inn.  You might know it, you might not.  Either way, you have an idea of what the fare will be: crusty bread, cheese, a meat stew or skewer, and a mug of mulled cider, wine, or ale.  Coffee and tea might be options too along with some fruit for dessert.

These staples are the standard in so many fantasy novels and series - Lord of Rings, Song of Ice and Fire, Wheel of Time, and on and on.  Occasionally it might be changed up with dishes native to the town.  If the village is by the sea, maybe you can get a fish stew or spiced fish eggs.  It's all usually simple food, but it's hearty.  It covers the primary food groups in our world and worlds like ours.  It is food that will sustain you and keep you going on your journey.  Most of it is easy to stow away in your pack too.  And the smell, oh the smell!  Few things are as mouthwatering as the aroma of freshly baked bread.  And also?  A big hunk of bread and bowl of stew is tasty.  I find it even more delicious after I spent the day walking in the cold outdoors. 

Since these eats are simple, it is easy to replicate and have your own fantasy novel dinner party.  You get bonus points if you have a fireplace and extra gold stars if you pull your dining room table over to eat in front of it.  If it were my party, I would pull out the renaissance costumes for everybody.*  Just sayin'.  Here's a sample menu:

Loaf of sourdough or other crusty bread - homemade or purchased from the local market
Cheeseboard - offer a few varieties of cheese and cut it in nice, thick slices
Beef, vension, or lamb stew - I particularly love this Hunter Stew with Dumplings recipe from Castles & Cooks and bread bowls are definitely an option
Roasted potatoes with butter

Sliced apples

Mulled cider or wine
Coffee, maybe modeled on one of these coffees from fantasy novels

No plasticware and no napkins (unless the guests are borrowing your renaissance faire outfits, you don't want them to wipe greasy fingers on your chemise).  Serve beverages in ceramic or pewter mugs.  You could go the Medieval Times route and ban all utensils, but forks really do serve a sound purpose.  Kicking back with pipe-weed after dinner is highly encouraged.
Eat hearty!
*Yeah, I really do things like that.
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