May 26, 2012

Stuff I've Written Lately

I've written some articles around the internet in the last two weeks about Game of Thrones, The Feast of Ice and Fire Cookbook, X-Men, and more! Here are links if you'd like to check them out:

Once Upon a Time: Season Finale Review - The first season of Once Upon a Time closed with a few twists and turns. I liked it so much that I'm looking forward to next season.

Game of Thrones Veteran Recap: A Man Without Honor - My recaps for The Mary Sue have changed slightly. Rather than the spoilers from the book being at the end of the post, they're throughout the recap/review. Don't read them if you don't want to know what's happening in A Clash of Kings.

Game of Thrones Veteran Recap: The Prince of Winterfell - Last week's episode was spent building up to the big showdown in Blackwater this week. I can't wait!

The Dark Phoenix Saga Needs No Introduction - I'm diving into X-Men comics for the first time for Blastoff Comics, and I fell head over heels in love with the Dark Phoenix Saga. Click the link and read why!

X-Men Against Hate - As I've been reading X-Men and hearing the news about Northstar this week, I've noticed how much they fight against and deal with hate. I talk about why hate is scary and why I admire the X-Men team (heroes and creators) for taking it on.

Our Interview With The Authors Of The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook [Feature] - I interviewed the lovely, talented ladies behind the official cookbook for Game of Thrones (with an introduction by George R.R. Martin and everything). Learn about how they research and where they find exotic ingredients.


Now these two articles I didn't write. However, I was interviewed or included in them so I figured this was a good time as any to share them with you:

Release your inner geek with DIY shoes - I talked with Today.com about my Clone Wars heels and the nerd shoe craft party!

Geek Travel: Map With Recommendations from Our Favorite Geeks - HostelBookers.com rounded up 15 geeks and ask them for one geek destination. See what I recommended as well as Stephen Fry, Bonnie Burton, Veronica Belmont, Ryan Penagos, and more!

Quick Blurbs
Avengers Inspired Cocktails
The Adventures Of The Doctor Who Puppet
Marvel Creates a Superhero That Wears a Hearing Aid For a 4-Year-Old Boy
Easter Egg Reveals Firefly and Prometheus Could Exist In The Same Universe
Even The Avengers Take a Day Off [Art]
If The TARDIS Were a Motorbike It Would Look Like This
Hughes The Force: a John Hughes Star Wars Fan Film [Video]
Perfect Avengers Dress Designs

You can always see more of the blurb type articles at Nerd Approved and Fashionably Geek. I write stuff for them every day and if I included all those links, well it would be a stupidly long list.



May 25, 2012

Star Wars Fan Film Hughes the Force Available Online!

May 25th. It's a momentous day for Star Wars fans. 35 years ago, Star Wars: A New Hope was released in theaters. From there, well, it's been an exciting journey.

A different kind of Star Wars film is being released today. Hughes the Force is 30 minute fan film that mashes Star Wars and John Hughes together. Yeah, I know. Awesome. And you can watch it online for completely free.
Let me address the concerns you may have:

- Fan films have a reputation for not being great. Goodness knows I've seen my fair share of films in that category. I've seen Hughes the Force a few times, and I can assure you that's far above most fan films in production value, quality, casting, story, etc. Watching this will make you happy. If you are a Star Wars fan and a John Hughes fan, watching this will make you ecstatic.

- I can already foresee folks not giving this a shot because it's 30 minutes in length. It's not like you can watch it quickly at the office while you're supposed to be working (you know you do it). It will fit nicely into your lunch break though,but also? It's worth it to set aside part of your evening or weekend to watch it. Treat it like an episode of television, a mini movie - whatever it takes to get you in front of your chosen screen to watch it.

Hopefully you're convinced, but if you're not, let me just say again: I love this short film. It's got spunk, passion, nerdy references galore (but in a nice way, not a pandering way), voice actors from Star Wars: The Clone Wars dressed as their characters, and so much more. I highly recommend it.

Watch it on the Hughes the Force website or Kevin Smith's (he makes a cool cameo) YouTube channel!


After you watch it and love it, check out my interview with Director/Producer/Writer J.C. Reifenberg.


May 23, 2012

The Hunger Games, Party Style

The Hunger Games isn't exactly a cheerful book. Controlling government, starvation, kids fighting to the death. Not so much party fodder. Unless you're my friends or myself. Sarah, Autumn, and I were joking one day about how funny it would be if we held a Hunger Games party and ate a lot of food. Then it became a serious thing and lo and behold, we hosted the Fake Hunger Games in my backyard last weekend.

We sent out a Facebook invite simply announcing the 74th Annual Hunger Games. I think a lot of people were too scared to RSVP. We did end up with about 20 or so attendees, some of them were tributes but most of us were just residents of the Capitol stuffing our faces and watching the games. It was perfect.

As we started talking about the party, it seemed to make the most sense to split up the Gamemaker responsibilities. I claimed food because I'd been drooling over a website with lots of Hunger Games inspired recipes, Sarah played Haymitch and brought all the beverages and formulated some specialty drinks, and Autumn planned the games (she's maniacal, it was perfect) and also rounded up all the plasticware.

The Drinks & The Food
I am incredibly boring when it comes to obtaining beverages and never know how to plan for the right amounts of alcohol, etc, so I was thrilled when Sarah volunteered for this responsibility. She discovered that Martha had a Hunger Games cocktail and another list of themed drinks from the series and went from there. She experimented and tested them (someone has to do it) and came armed with bottles and bottles of booze and mixers.


In the end, guests could choose from The Girl on Fire and Haymitch's Hooch. I tried both... for science. Haymitch's Hooch was a spritzer of sorts and it was just the sort of cool, light drink I needed while sweating in my stupidly hot kitchen. After I'd consumed more food, I experimented with The Girl on Fire (the recipe from Martha's site). I probably added a lot more mango juice than I should have because I'm a wus, but it was a wonderfully fruity and delicious drink. In fact, I could use one now.

Though it's a book with a lot of starving people, food is mentioned. Especially in any area of the book discussing the Capitol. Not a ton but enough to go on. I had options though. I got all my food inspiration and recipes from Fictional Food (not The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook) except the District 11 bread which I found here. My menu included: District 11 bread, raisin and nut bread (like Peeta gave Katniss), Prim's reaping day gift, the orange chicken from Katniss' lunch with Cinna, dandelion greens, goat cheese and apple tarts, lamb stew with dried plums, and wild rice.

I had so much fun prepping everything! I made everything from scratch except for the wild rice which came in a box. I dutifully wore my Mellark Bakery apron while baking on Friday night, and I listened to the soundtrack from The Hunger Games film on repeat.

I set the table with some plain linen and rustic-y colors. Thom was kind enough to design the placards with the quotes I provided (I almost got sucked back into the book while looking them up), and he also went on a hunt for dandelion greens for me. They were harder to find than I anticipated.
Anyways, it was several hours in the kitchen but the recipes from Fictional Food were spot on and I had a great time cooking and then eating. The lamb stew was my favorite.

I also recruited (read: asked politely) the awesome justJENN to make cupcakes for the party. She brought some beautiful mockingjay treats! That link shows just how she made the molds and painted the mockingjays. The black sprinkles are to represent coal, and the cupcakes themselves are chocolate. She chose chocolate because chocolate cake is mentioned in the series in regards to a Capitol meal. Huzzah research!

The Games

What's a Hunger Games party without a battle to the death? I'm glad Autumn was willing to take this on because I think both Sarah and myself would have been happy with just stuffing our faces. Autumn brought a giant punch bowl for the reaping and had all the attendees' names typed and ready to enter. Participation was thankfully voluntary.

Every tribute chose or was assigned a district. They each wore a streamer around their waist with flags, and the last tribute standing with a flag won the games. Tributes had my backyard, the sidewalk beside my house, and the front yard to play - it was tight quarters.
You may be wondering what they battled with. Water balloons and guns of course! We counted down (yeah, there's a video) and the tributes had to dash to grab these weapons from the cornucopia:
There was running, inadvertent tackling, alliances, fake love reenactment, fake death - all of this happened in five minutes or less. Oh yes, more video of that. It was probably the fastest Games on record.
Chrissy emerged victorious!! Her prize wasn't wealth and food for her district, but a mockingjay necklace.
After those games, some folks played board games inside and I amused myself with tiny bows and arrows made from this tutorial (Jenn, Jeff, and Thom crafted the little bows before the party).
I'm biased, but I think we managed to create a pretty amazing time. Granted, none of us had Seneca Crane's fancypants beard, but as it turned out we didn't need it (even though I was tempted to make this one from leather). The tributes had such fun that I think they're willing to come back for the Quarter Quell next year.

You can check out #FakeHungerGames on Twitter for some commentary from the day and see more pics of food, tributes, etc. here.

Though I had a BLAST at the party, the best part for me was trading emails with my fellow Gamemakers about  the party. Dividing tasks up made the whole party easier to plan, and so many of the emails made me laugh and all of them reminded me that I'm lucky to have such awesome friends.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

May 13, 2012

Stuff I've written lately

Here's a whole bunch of articles I've written elsewhere on the interwebs over the past two weeks:



Game of Thrones Recap: The Ghost of Harrenhal - My recap and review of episode 5 of the current season of Game of Thrones. There were a lot of differences from the book in that episode.

Game of Thrones Recap: The Old Gods and The New - My recap/review of last week's Game of Thrones which made me really want to punch Theon.

Once Upon a Time: "An Apple Red as Blood" Review - It's almost time for the season finale of Once, and last week's episode is setting the stage! Read my review to learn more.

That's Our Joss - I sat down to write about The Avengers and mostly ended up talking about Joss Whedon. Because he's awesome. It explains why I'm proud to be a Whedonite and a little about why I think the Avengers is amazing.

Free Comic Book Day Round-Up And Reviews [Feature] - All about my Free Comic Book Day adventures with mini reviews and my favorites of the issues I picked up.


Quick Blurbs
Vote To Make a Firefly Serenity LEGO Set Happen
Who Drinks More: Tyrion Lannister or Don Draper? [Video]
Tell Time With Star Wars Vehicles
Joss Thanks His Fans And Makes Me Cry
This Dr. Horrible Plush Is Way Too Cute To Be Evil
Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and Sherlock Holmes Walk Into Hooters…
The Avengers On Your Fingernails
If Darth Vader Designed a Tutu Dress It Would Look Like This
Avengers Comic Book High Heels






May 10, 2012

Drifters: When Sci-Fi On TV Isn't So Great, Look to the Web

The schedule for television isn't exactly overflowing with good options for science fiction these days. It seems like there are more than a few options for fantasy (Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time come to mind), but I don't hear much about sci-fi. Sometimes - okay a lot of the times - you have to turn to the internet to find what you're looking for and if you're searching for sci-fi, you can stop at Drifter.

I'll borrow their words to describe the story of the web series in progress:

One hundred fifty years from now, a man, alone in space on an eight month journey to Earth's Colony on Mars, teaches his ship's computer to let him virtually enter his favorite TV show.  When a politically motivated sabotage bombing leaves the ship damaged beyond repair, he finds himself adrift with only 12 days of life support left.  The virtual world of the TV show becomes his only chance for human interaction, friendship, and perhaps... even love.  What happens next? The only way to find out is to show us your support. The pilot episode of DRIFTER will not be released online, but all contributors to our funding campaign will get to see it!


Fun, right? I think the premise sounds intriguing and the cast and crew tied to Drifter bring a lot of experience to the table, specifically knowledge of web series. And the coolest part (at least to me) is that they're consulting aerospace engineers who work at NASA to make sure they're getting it right. After all, science fiction doesn't necessarily mean ignoring all the rules of physics.

Another neat tidbit about this series is that they're foregoing the traditional TV development model and just making it happen. The folks behind Drifter are showing that "independently developed and produced television pilots are a viable part of the future of entertainment." They hope to take Drifter all the way to a network - with your help!

Visit Mobcaster to learn more about Drifters, to check out the cast and crew info, and to help fund the series.

May 8, 2012

Seven Nerdy Coffee Cozies

When I go to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or any other popular coffee chain, I always get a paper sleeve for my vanilla latte. I probably don't always need them, but most of the time the drinks are too hot to hold without them. Even though I don't get coffee out very often, the world does. I can't even imagine how many sleeves the Starbucks next to my office uses in a day, let alone coffee shops across the country.

You can help minimize waste and make a geeky statement while doing so. I've noticed more and more nerdy coffee cozies popping on Etsy, and they only cost 1-3 of your drinks from your coffee shop of choice. Here are some of my favorites:
Cuddlefish Crafts has fantastic crocheted sleeves with the Star Trek insignia. As you can see the come in different division colors; you can get the set for $39.99 or singles for $14.99.

MouthyMitts offers a Space Invader to go with your favorite morning beverage for just $14.

Dexlar Price has a printed TARDIS cozy, and it's worth getting just to make comments about having more coffee on the inside. It's $5.

Becoming Homegrown sells cozies representing the galaxy far, far away. For $5 you can choose Boba Fett or Yoda.

LuLa Creations has a cute little crochet and felt Super Mario mushroom to protect your hands for $10.

Nausicaa Distribution is bringing a little math to your coffee for $10. It may also make you crave pie (it would have that effect on me)

HG's Unique Boutique takes a little inspiration from the Hero of Canton with their Jayne inspired cozy. It can be yours for $16.

The catch is you actually have to remember to take them with you in the mornings. Mine would have to permanently live in my purse.

May 4, 2012

May the Fourth Be With You!


Though the saying has been around for as long as May 4 has existed on the calendar (a very long time), I only became aware of it being celebrated as Star Wars Day a few years ago. It sounds so close to "may the force be with you," so why not? It's nice to have a sort of official Star Wars holiday that isn't Life Day.

So, what does one do to celebrate a Star Wars holiday? First of all, wear your favorite Star Wars t-shirt. If you've ever considered wearing a Jedi robe to work, this is the day to do it. Then send one of these very cool May the 4th e-cards to friends. After you do that, the most obvious answer is to have a marathon. Make Star Wars cookies, have friends over, have some toy lightsaber duels - you know, just another Friday night. Don't forget to make this Severed Wampa Arm cake!

You could also make a weekend of it. I think it's best celebrated with others, so make some Star Wars crafts with friends, build Lego kits, have an action figure customizing party, make Star Wars shoes. The possibilities go on and on. You could also take the day to go through your Star Wars toys and comics and make a donation to a local children's hospital.

Some websites and organizations are marking the day with giveaways. For example, Rancho Obi-Wan is giving away memberships! All you have to do is sign up to be on their mailing list (on the right side of the page) to get a chance to win one of four memberships. And trust me, a membership to this place is a big deal. In fact, purchasing a membership or giving it as a gift to someone else would be one heck of a way to commemorate Star Wars day.

Some of my favorite deals for May Fourth!
  • Her Universe is releasing at least three new Star Wars shirt designs! They're available for 20% off from HotTopic.com.
  • Amazon has the saga on Blu-ray for $78.99 - that's 44% off. They're also offering Star Wars Gold Box deals throughout the day.
  • Epic Ink Books is offering a 25% discount Star Wars: The Blueprints.
  • LEGO is offering free shipping and a free exclusive mini-fig with orders over $75 and an R2-D2 poster with any LEGO Star Wars order.
  • TFAW has a killer sale on Star Wars comics, graphic novels, toys, and merchandise (like lightsaber umbrellas and lamps!)
  • WeLoveFine is offering 30% off Star Wars tees.
  • Junk Food Clothing is offering 30% off Star Wars tees.
StarWars.com has a comprehensive list of deals being offered across the web for the day, including Barnes & Noble, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, and more.

It's becoming a date for announcements of an official nature, too. Last year's May 4th brought details about the then upcoming Star Wars on Blu-ray release. This year... well, maybe we'll get some more announcements about Celebration VI?

Regardless of anything else, it's a day to show and share your love for Star Wars. May the Fourth Be With You!

May 2, 2012

Oh, Moviefone and your Girl's Guide to The Avengers. Really?


So there’s this article on Moviefone about The Avengers. It’s a primer on who’s who and includes background information for folks new to the franchise. At least, that’s what it should have been.

Instead of just laying it out for newcomers, it takes a spin that the title of the article gives away: “Girl’s Guide to The Avengers: What You Need to Know If You Know Nothing.” Yeah. And with that title, it’s as full of sexist stereotyping as you would imagine. The article proceeds to point out that of course ladies only know about The Avengers because of their boyfriends and will be suffering through the torture of seeing it only for their man and for the love of all the superhero biceps on display. But the author – a woman, mind you – points out:

"(Of course, that's not a slight against the girls who actually do read comic books -- i.e. real fans, actual people with varied interests -- but for this, let's just go with the stock view of ladies, ladies!)"

Teehee, what a cute pat on the head. This attempt to not make ladies who read comic books angry has the opposite effect. This girl is feeling pretty Hulk Smash, and the phrase "stock view of ladies" isn't helping.



After that introduction, the author runs down the members of The Avengers and some terms used in the film. But again, it implies you would only want to use the information to awe your boyfriend. How insulting.

"Including cocktail introductions a la "Bridget Jones's Diary" and boyfriend impressing tidbits, below is everything you need to know about "The Avengers."

Yeah, why would you want to learn the information for the sake of curiosity?  Or to better enjoy the movie? Women are not driven to do every single thing for love, yet this article implies that romance is apparently the only impetus moving women forward. I.e. we’ll only watch a movie if there is a love story. We’ll only see a superhero flick for our boyfriend. We’ll only read this list because you inserted Bridget Jones.

Not too long after the article was published, the internet reacted with anger and rightfully so. This caveat was added as damage control:

[Editor's Note: As you can see, we've gotten a lot of heat for this article. It was meant to be a satirical piece, and obviously, it did not come across that way. There are plenty of female superhero fans, and our intent was not to make them feel marginalized. We've changed the headline to reflect the focus as we originally intended it (but did not communicate as well): One woman's perspective on the Avengers]

Huh?

I actually felt marginalized not only as a female superhero fan but as a female in general. I like Star Wars, comics, and Firefly as well as Jane Austen and Hello Kitty. You know what? I like Bridget Jones' Diary, too. Captain America is my favorite superhero, and yeah, I think his biceps are amazing. All of those things are okay. Women like stuff. All kinds of stuff. And not just because our boyfriends like it.

The article is not satirical. It’s rude. If  you had to point out that it was meant to be satire after an avalanche of internet rage, 1) It was done poorly and 2) I don’t believe you.

And the title change makes no sense. It’s now "One Girl's Guide To 'The Avengers': What You Need To Know If You Know Nothing." As my friend Sarah pointed out, “It [the article] wasn't positioned as being written by a woman, it was positioned as being aimed at women. So now it's only aimed at one woman?”

Ridiculous.

Finally. The part that angers me the most is that at the end of the article, there's a list of things you should say after the movie if you want to impress your boyfriend. Here’s a crazy idea. Why don’t you actually tell him what you honestly thought of the movie? I hate hate hate the way this article implies we are ladybots here to pretend to like whatever our boyfriend likes. There’s a difference between being supportive about your stuff your partner digs and being mindless about it. A HUGE one.

Some of you will inevitably point out: if it’s such a blatantly offensive article, why give it more attention? Because I think if we don’t call out articles like this, idgits will keep writing them.

I’m not the only person to take offense. I recommend reading this response by The Discriminating Fangirl. I’ll add links as more pop up.


May 1, 2012

Free Comic Book Day is almost here!

Do you know what Saturday, May 5 is? It's Free Comic Book Day! And free really means free!

If you haven't heard of it, comic book retailers around the world give away a select handful of comics for free on the first Saturday of May. The annual tradition is celebrating its 10th year giving comics to fans and getting new readers. I know the word "free" usually comes with a catch but not on this day! The process is pretty straightforward.

Go to the FCBD page and enter your zip code to find stores in your area that are participating (the search tool is on the left). Go to that store on May 5 and get free comics. The number of free comics you can take home varies by store; I've been to stores that give you three comics and I've been to ones that give you seven. If there's not a sign stating the number, just ask one of the employees when you arrive. Shops usually have the FCBD selection in one area so as not to confuse them with comics you have to purchase. The selection usually includes a variety from different publishers, and for the first time this year, there is even a free HARDCOVER book from Archaia. Yeah, it's going to go fast. Here's a list of this year's comics.

Many comic book shops usually make this a day to celebrate! They'll have cosplayers on hand, crazy sales on back issues and graphic novels, art auctions, and/or creator signings. Once you've found a store or three to visit, search for the website or Facebook page to see what else they have going on. It's fun to go on a comic book shop crawl on FCBD with friends and then take all the comics to a bar or park and read and talk about them.

I think the best part of this day is exposing new readers to comic books and existing readers to comic books they wouldn't otherwise try. It's basically a free trial, and it's fun to introduce comics to friends who aren't normally into them. It's great for kids, too! There are plenty of all ages comics available on FCBD. If you can't talk friends into going, pass your free comics on to them when you're done reading (if you can bear to part with them).

And, it's good to keep in mind that retailers do pay for the comics they giveaway, so if you can support them by buying an issue or two it's great but absolutely not necessary.

If there aren't any participating stores near you or you can't get out of work, etc that day, fear not! You have digital options. Keep an eye on Graphicly and comiXology for digital free comics. They've offered them in the past, and I'm sure they will again this year.

Happy Free Comic Book Day!

Finally, if you're in Los Angeles, I recommend checking out the Blastoff Comics FCBD event in North Hollywood! It's going to be fun, and I'll be there for a bit (possibly in costume).

Two Years Ago
When Someone Hands you Stormtrooper Armor
One Year Ago
Star Wars Fan Films


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