January 31, 2013

Hobbit art that will injure you with its adorableness

When you come across art that makes you want to clap your hands in glee, you feel compelled to share it in hopes it will make someone else's day brighter. The One Ring.net recently shared some ridiculously precious Thorin art on Facebook, and I went over to the artist's page and fell into a rabbit hole. The creator of the images not only had tons of his or her own work posted, there were also links to more cute art. Here are some of my favorites:

From Kadeart:

This is what caught my attention! Just look at the lil Kili and Fili hanging on their Uncle Thorin. Awww.

From Reammm:

Thranduil is a party animal.

All the feelings.

I want to hug all the dwarves and Bilbo now! I'll just go count the days until The Hobbit is released on Blu-ray.

January 28, 2013

This Star Wars/Star Trek trailer mash-up gave me chills

Some of you may still be reeling from the news that J.J. Abrams will be at the helm of Star Wars Episode VII. I've been avoiding lens flare jokes and the like as if they were the plague, but I am crazy impressed by this Star Wars/Star Trek trailer mash-up. It's a trailer for Star Wars cut like the one for Star Trek Into Darkness. It gave me chills.

So many facets of Star Wars impress me, but I never cease to be amazed at how well the saga holds up through the years. Granted, I'm biased but it seems very few movies can hold a candle in that regard.

/via Laughing Squid

January 22, 2013

Star Wars in Superman

I recently read Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu (I know, I'm late to the game as always). Besides the fact that it was a wonderful Superman story, I couldn't help but notice the wall decorations in young Clark Kent's room. Bruce Lee, Akira, and an X-wing and Darth Vader's TIE Fighter - TIE Advanced x1:

Star Wars is everywhere.

If you haven't read the book yet, you can get it on Amazon.

January 21, 2013

Your weekly dose of Amethyst

As long as DC Nation keeps airing Amethyst shorts, I'll keep sharing them. In this week's clip, Amethyst discovers the challenges of bathing in an enchanted forest.

Also, I like her Leia-esque hair buns!

Check out the first two clips!

/via Super Punch

January 18, 2013

Review: Star Wars Origami

I'm scared of origami.

I've looked longingly at the beautiful sheets of origami paper in Little Tokyo and at craft stores and wondered what I could create with them - but I know myself. I know I am not patient and that making tons of tiny folds would probably be more like torture than fun. At least, that's what I told myself. When Star Wars Origami came along though, I couldn't resist. Maybe I could build Yoda or R2-D2 or a bantha!

It's funny. I knew origami wasn't easy, yet I expected to sit down with the book and be able to absorb the information in no time. Hardly any craft works that way, I know, but that's the frame of mind I was in when I first flipped through the pages. I scanned over the projects, drooled over all the awesome Star Wars themed paper in the back, and read the beginning sections that covered origami symbols, basic folds, and bases. The way the folds are drawn gave me flashbacks to high school geometry so I put the book down for a minute. This was going to take some effort.

I took a deep breath and flipped to the back of the book where a page lists the projects in order from easiest to hardest. There was no question that I had to start at the Youngling level. I chose to build the Death Star. I'm not going to lie. I sucked. I puzzled over what the arrows and bases and folds meant. I folded this way, realized it was wrong, and folded it back. It didn't go well, but as it was my first time folding origami anything, I wasn't surprised (but I still felt dumb).

I kept at it, and it hasn't got easier yet. I get frustrated easily, but that's because I'm new to the craft and I think I'd learn better if I could watch someone else do it first. Though I've taught myself how to do a few crafts from books, origami clearly isn't going to be one of them. That said, it's no fault of the book.

Chris Alexander laid out a fantastic book with 36 projects that have clear instructions. Anyone who already speaks the origami language will surely find the steps of each project easy to follow. I like that they cover characters across the trilogy from Yoda to Taun We and that there are plenty of projects for ships. The paper that is provided is perfect for the projects and easy to fold. It creases nicely (good for when you make correct folds, which I haven't done a lot of yet), and you get two sheets per project so you can share with friends.

Star Wars Origami is great for anyone who has basic knowledge of the craft already or anyone who doesn't know anything but is good at learning from books rather than hands-on demonstrations. I plan to pull my copy of the book out at an upcoming craft day to see if any of my friends can help me out!

You can order a copy of Star Wars Origami on Amazon.

This book was sent to me for review by Workman Publishing.

January 17, 2013

I love these geek chic skirts by Golden Lasso Designs

Many Etsy shops try to hit the geek chic note, but more often than not, they miss my definition. I see plenty of fantastic skirts and dresses with geeky prints, but the prints dominate the piece. I like them, but I can't wear most of what I find to work. Actually, I pretty much only bring that sort of stuff out at conventions. I'm constantly on the look out for subtle geeky touches, and Golden Lasso Designs gets the mix just right.

The seamstress behind the shop, Kimi, is a talented cosplayer and designer. She's mixed the geektastic prints you want with styles you can wear every day. You can choose between a ruffle skirt with Star Wars touches, a pleat skirt with hints of Marvel super heroes, or a classic stretch skirt with strips of comic book fabric on the side. If you don't like the particular style matched with a certain fabric, you can probably customize it. She's flexible.

Check out a few examples of her clothing:

Keep an eye on her shop because she's constantly coming up with new ideas!

Go ahead, go shopping!

January 15, 2013

Will Star Wars rumors make the internet explode?

Episodes VII, VIII, and IX will be modeled after Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy.

The new Star Wars movies will have nothing to do with the Expanded Universe.

There's definitely going to be a movie all about Boba Fett!

Zack Snyder is absolutely, for sure developing a Star Wars movie that's like the Seven Samurai.

Mara Jade will be in the next Star Wars movie and will be played by Felicia Day (okay, I just made that one up).

Rumors. Hearsay.
But you know what? Several websites have posted some of those rumors as facts. One site has a mysterious inside source and others run with it and conveniently forget to mention that nothing is confirmed. Fans get outraged, excited, confused and then it starts all over the next day.

by ihlecreations
The rumor mill is insane. I'm sure it was like this before the prequels, but the internet is a different place now. It's evolved, social media is far past the likes of MySpace, and news - even the fake kind - spreads faster than the Millennium Falcon can jump to lightspeed (that might not be the best measure).

And you know, it is fun to speculate and to spin. What if Joss Whedon directed? What if Dave Filoni got involved? What would the universe be like in the hands of person X, Y, or Z? Imagining the possibilities is a blast and one of the best ways to pass the time until we get the names of those actually involved. Then theories will move forward to the next topic: casting or story or whatever questions remain unanswered.

Talking about the hypothetical is a part of fandom I enjoy, but let's all keep our senses. Before you have heart palpitations about Zack Snyder and start tweeting about he would ruin Star Wars in ALL CAPS, consider taking a step back and examining the news in front of you (the extreme negativity is a topic for another time).

What's the source? How many sites are reporting it? Which site reported it first and do they have direct quotes or cite their source? Has Lucasfilm released any announcements?
Use your noodle.

In fact, you should apply that to darn near anything you read on the internet. You don't want to be one of the people who passed around the link stating that NASA found Mardi Gras-like plastic beads on Mars believing it to be truth. Be a skeptic. Especially before you go to the trouble of raising your blood pressure.

I'm paranoid enough that I don't believe any of the news about the Star Wars movies or TV shows until I see it from Lucasfilm. I've seen at least two stories that spread around entertainment sites as "sure things" that ended up being false. At least one company reported that The Clone Wars is moving to a Disney channel and there wasn't any solid confirmation backing it. I don't begrudge blogs for jumping on information as it speeds across the internet - traffic is traffic after all and Star Wars makes people click - but I don't like that people neglect the rumor part. Many headlines from yesterday stated "Snyder IS developing a Star Wars movie" instead of the accurate "Snyder might be involved with a Star Wars movie."

Of course after that story washed over Twitter like a tornado, Snyder's rep said he is not in any way involved with the franchise. But we should also remember that someone denying he or she is involved with a Star Wars project isn't necessarily the end. Contracts can prevent people from talking and who wants to be involved in a legal situation with Disney/Lucasfilm? Freaking nobody.

Moral of the story: debate the possibilities, have fun, but don't believe everything you read. And if you're a writer, for the sake of Skywalker, don't report rumors as stone cold facts. It's rude.

January 14, 2013

New Amethyst short!

"She's too pink and... dainty."

Amethyst starts to discover her skills in the second short on DC Nation, and we get our first glimpse of Dark Opal! Yay!

Go watch the first short!

January 10, 2013

My Christmas tree skirt has Star Wars, Marvel comics, Superman, and more

Yes, I'm aware Christmas was a few weeks ago. No, it is not going to stop me from posting a picture of the tree skirt I made. When I put up my little artificial tree, it was lacking... something. Normally I just throw a spare blanket around the bottom and call it a day, but I decided I needed a geeky tree skirt. I went to Etsy, and the only one I turned up had a giant Imperial cog and that was not happening in my house. But then, I had a realization.

I know how to sew now!

My friend Kimi had the patience to show another friend and I the basics and help us make skirts. She taught me about measuring, cutting fabric, sewing it together, hems, and she introduced me to the magical wonder that is bias tape. I had a mini sewing machine, I just needed the right geeky fabric and I could figure it out. This is what I had been trained for!

I got fabric (all of it is from JoAnn's - they have a terrific selection of licensed stuff), bias tape, better thread, and dove in. I used my round dining room table as my pattern base. I wanted my skirt to be a little smaller so I got some scrap fabric, measured, and used a pencil and string to draw my circle. I cut out my pattern fabric and folded it up so that I had 16 sections. I measured the section and cut out 16 pieces of fabric. Yeah, kid stuff but I felt so smart to be sewing something all by myself. Like the queen of sewing.

The next day I pinned and sewed and pinned and sewed some more, and the skirt actually looked like it did in my head. Every step went swimmingly - I even successful wound the bobbin - but before I got to sewing the trim on the outer edge of the fabric, my sewing machine mysteriously stopped working. It just kept getting tangled near the bobbin. I tried to fuss with it in case it was me winding the bobbin that screwed it up, but I couldn't figure out the problem. And since it was December 23rd and I wanted the skirt done, I attached the bias tape with my friend Stitch Witchery. Tada:
I'm pleased with how it turned out, and I might go back next year and add a backing and properly sew the bottom - if I fix my sewing machine by then.

January 9, 2013

Hello, Vegas: Show me your geeky slot machines!

Las Vegas isn't exactly my sort of town but at the same time, it is. I'm not big on gambling, drinking to excess, or partying in loud clubs, and those are probably the three primary reasons people travel to the city that never sleeps (or is it sin city?). But. It is like Disneyland for adults and I can relate to that aspect. Each hotel is themed from the carpet to the floral arrangements to the outfits of the cocktail waitresses. The food is diverse and delicious, the shows are flashy and over the top, and Vegas may have more fake interior skies than all of the Disney theme parks put together. Seriously - that city is the definition of spectacle.

I always have a blast.

On a recent visit around Thanksgiving, I spotted a Lord of the Rings slot machine in Caesar's. I knew there were Star Wars ones in the airport too, and I figured there had to be more around the strip. So to add fun I made a game of looking for machines with geeky themes. It was a way to break up the monotony of strolling through casino floors - that part of casinos tends to look the same no matter where you are - and I spotted more than I figured I would. I slacked on making note of where I saw everything, but I think slots move around anyways so the list probably wouldn't be accurate for long.

This Star Wars machine ate all of my dollars in no time. Like the money practically walked out of my hand. The lady next to me must have been in cahoots with Darth Vader though because it was luckier for her.
I remember this Lord of the Rings was in the Paris casino. I didn't get to play because people were sitting at it before and after I went to dinner, but I stopped to admire the detail of Saruman and Gandalf's staffs at the top of the machines!
Before this trip to Vegas I'd only played a handful of generic slot machines. Like the kind with lines of cherries. Watching this Star Trek game and some of these others was my first experience with video slots. It's like playing video games while spending all your money, which I suppose is how they get you.

This Lord of the Rings machine was the one in my hotel, and it proved to be the luckiest. I kept getting bonuses, so it gave me the longest game play too (you know, out of the whole three slot machines or so I played). There was a map, mini movies, and the chairs moved. I wanted to bring it home with me, but I settled for the $50 or so I won from it instead. 

All in all, I came out $5-10 ahead. I can see the appeal, but I'm still way too attached to my money to let much of it go.

While I was tweeting my geeky slot machine pics from the trip, I heard rumors of a Stargate: SG-1 slot and an Indiana Jones one, but I didn't spot either. Have you seen more in Vegas that I didn't show?

January 8, 2013

Star Wars Insider #138 has my first published articles!

Last month marked an important milestone in my writer career: Star Wars Insider #138 has my first two published articles! Well, published in print that is.

I had the honor of speaking with two actors from Star Wars: The Clone Wars about two very different subjects. I interviewed James Arnold Taylor (the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Plo Koon, and more) about his experiences as the host of the main stage at Star Wars Celebration VI, and he shared some wonderful memories (speaking of JAT, I also interviewed him about being a voice actor, etc and it was published at IGN a bit ago). Additionally, I got to speak with the lovely Cat Taber (the voice of Padmé Amidala) about her five favorite blasters in the Star Wars universe. Yeah, she's awesome.

It might be a small thing to some, but it made my day/week/month to be published in the exact magazine I've been wanting to contribute to for a while. Hopefully I'll get another chance to contribute again! I believe the issue is still on newsstands or at comic book shops but probably not for much longer.

January 7, 2013

Amethyst Finally Appears on DC Nation

DC Nation has been teasing us with the prospect of Amethyst shorts for a while. There have been a few fake-outs, and then the series went off the air for a few months - I worried that we'd never get to see the shorts. But the Princess of Gemworld finally got to make her appearance on Saturday, and it was perfect.

Besides the crazy adorable and charming factors, the twist on the tale of Amy Winston is creative and makes sense. In the DC Nation shorts, Amy Winston is a game designer and she's built Gemworld pixel by pixel. While she's testing the game, she's transported through a magical portal in her closet into Gemworld and becomes Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld. She gets a pegacorn and everything. Brianne Drouhard and the other folks who worked on these designs and the story should get gold stars.

I have a complaint though: one minute and sixteen seconds is not enough. I want to see all of Gemworld and its colorful inhabitants! It's a rich place to explore, and I love the direction it's headed towards.
Here's to many, many more!

(Also, I wish there was a comic series that lined up with this take on Amethyst! And if you don't know about the original comic series from the 80s, you can learn a little more about it here.)

January 4, 2013

Happy 100th Episode, Clone Wars!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars hits an important milestone tomorrow: the 100th episode.

Besides being a neat, round number and just being awesome, it has a greater significance. You might have noticed that seasons one and two of the series have entered syndication. Shows typically can't do that unless they cross the 100 episode milestone.

It's been a joy to watch this series change and evolve every year. Each season surpasses the last in terms of impact, effects, visuals, assets, and story. If I could ask one thing of anyone who likes Star Wars, I'd ask them to check out this series. Even though it occasionally stumbles (and what series doesn't), it's worth every minute you invest in watching.

I would not be the Star Wars fan I am today without The Clone Wars.

The saga was near and dear to me before 2008, but the animated series pushed me over the edge. Just the idea that the galaxy and history was so much greater than what I'd seen in the films and that watching characters like Anakin Skywalker gain depth and background as the episodes rolled forward - somehow this was the shiny ring that made me jump into the river.

Yoda's remarks that "the shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun, the Clone War has," always intrigued me and seeing more of that period, getting to know the soldiers, learning about the ins and outs of war and how it shaped the universe and the Jedi order was a reward beyond imagining for this fan.

The Clone Wars has filled in gaps and made the prequels richer for me. They've changed my opinion about Padmé Amidala. They've showcased a new female hero and role model for kids with Ahsoka Tano. They've resurrected Darth Maul and made it believable. They're showing how Anakin falls to the dark side, and it's not with one reckless leap. You see the bad pile up in small slights, betrayals, and manipulations, and it hurts because you know how it ends. They've shown how Palpatine plays everyone around him like instruments. They've given the clones voices and personalities and opened our eyes to the struggles of the soldiers fighting this ongoing war. They've created memorable characters and revealed new information about characters we already knew.

On top of the fantastic stories, everyone who works on this show does an amazing job. The voice actors impress the heck out of me with their range and nuance. The writers amaze me with what they pull out of their hats. The animators and lighting and FX folks just blow me away. I've been fortunate enough to see a handful of episodes on the big screen, and that's where the series belongs. 'Cause wow, is it gorgeous. The episode directors and supervising director Dave Filoni do a wonderful job of showing everything in the best way and managing the countless threads that have to be knit together to make each episode successful.

Everyone who works on this series in any way deserves a toast. Here's to all of you, and thanks for taking fans on such an entertaining ride.

To commemorate the occasion, the folks at Lucasfilm have cut together a celebration video. Relive some of your favorite moments from the series and get a peek at what's ahead for season five.

January 3, 2013

Things I talked about in 2012

I'm a procrastinator. It's my nature, and usually I can make it work for me but sometimes - well, I fall a little short. I didn't write out my goals for 2013 until January 2nd and I'm just getting around to posting a sort-of 2012 summary.

I came across this neat-o word cloud tool, and I thought I'd use it to capture all the posts in my blog in 2012. That was a cool thought. As it turns out, that wasn't simple so I crammed from about September onward in and this is what it spat back:
click to enlarge
Even if it's just a sampling of a few months, I feel like it's a decent representation of the long list of stuff I talk about here. As for what's to come in 2012? Lots more of the above. I might even get crazy and get back on some sort of regular schedule again. I know.

I hope you all have happy moments ahead in 2013 and remember to take pleasure in the little things. I think they make all the difference.

And thank you all for stopping by and reading.
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