Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gamer Drama: A Story Critique of Alan Wake

Hi everyone! This is, hopefully, the first of many Gamer Drama pieces, a group of themed blogs where I critique video games with a literary perspective. I enjoy video games for the game play and the graphics, but for me it's the story that really makes the game. Let me know what you think, and I'll decide if I should keep doing this (or decide what changes to make to improve Gamer Drama). 

I worked at Best Buy for the summer in between undergrad and graduate school. While I worked there, I became more familiar with non-Nintendo games and, ultimately, bought an Xbox 360. The first game I bought for it was Alan Wake. Strangely, I only recently played through it.
From the moment I heard about this game (just before it came out), I was intrigued. I am a huge Stephen King fan, and I thought the horror-writer-in-a-horror-story idea would be fun to play through—it has certainly always been fun to read.


Alan Wake is a best-selling mystery novelist, who is suffering from a two year-long bout of writer’s block. He and his wife have traveled to the small town of Bright Falls for a much-needed vacation. However, Alan soon learns that his wife, Alice, has lured him to the town under false pretenses—it is also home to a psychiatrist who specializes in “helping” creative types. Angry, Alan storms out of the cabin, leaving his wife behind. Since she has an almost manic fear of the dark, Alan knows she won’t follow her. However, the darkness outside the cabin is strange—shadows look more animated, the air seems to hum, and there’s an unnatural calm. Suddenly, the lights in the cabin go out, and Alice screams. Alan races into the cabin, and finds that the railing on the balcony has broken, indicating that Alice fell into the river. He dives in after her, and the screen goes black.
The next thing Alan knows, he’s waking up in the woods after a car accident. This marks the main part of the game—Alan tries to find his wife, while fleeing from the Big Bad “The Dark Presence” and it’s possessed minions, “The Taken.”

The Setting

This is probably the strongest part of Alan Wake. The majority of the game takes part in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, in and around the town of Bright Falls. The woods are dark, quiet, and often foggy. It is easy to get turned around as you run toward the next safe area or meeting place. Each time you get turned around, you become a magnet for the possessed Taken—a fact which, combined with the ambiance of the woods, means that you’re tense as you run through the forest.
These forest scenes are the strongest part of the game. The balance of the setting, the unnatural ambiance, and the fear make the gamer emotionally involved in these scenes. The next best part is the small-town setting. I feel like it accurately represents life in a small-town without becoming a parody of it—though, I must admit, it’s been a while since I have lived in a small town.
Other settings of the game aren’t quite as effective. The mine didn’t manage to carry the same atmosphere as the forest scenes did. The luxurious “artists’ retreat” run by Dr. Hartman seems like a reproduction of an earlier area (the national park Ranger’s Lodge), except that it’s not as effective in setting the scene. The building seems too large and too open to make the gamer nervous—the same qualities that make the forest scenes frightening doesn’t apply in this case. Alan Wake works best when the gamer is in the wild—in buildings, gardens, and other “tamed” areas, the atmosphere isn’t as effective.

The Characters

Alan Wake is in the minority among modern games because it ignores the silent character/everyman (or everyman with super badass combat training) trope, and creates a real character for you to play. At first, this is extremely refreshing. However, this feeling weakens overtime (though it never really disappears). Alan can get a little annoying after three or so “episodes.” While some of his narrative is good—when he directs you toward a goal or talks to others on the phone to set the plot—sometime he can be a little grating. I particularly found it annoying when he would explain what just happened—I know what happened, Alan, I made you do it and/or fought my way through it. No one could have possibly missed it.
            The rest of the characters are either unremarkable or annoying. I found myself wishing I could just leave Alice to rot or leave Barry to certain doom several times. One of the most problematic characters, however, was Agent Nightingale. He is introduced as an antagonist, overreacts to a bunch of things, and then meets his doom. The character is a little more fleshed out in the manuscript pages, but I still found him mostly unnecessary. If it wasn't for the attempt to make Dr. Hartman a sort-of evil mastermind, he would have been pointless as well. It’s easy enough for a video game to invest the player in the fates of its minor characters—however, Alan Wake didn't manage to do that for me.
            As for the “bad guys,” I really only found the Taken to be effective. At first, Barbara Jagger (who’s really just the meat suit for the Dark Presence) was certainly creepy. I felt she really made the scene in the diner. However, the more the game fleshed out her character, the less imposing I found her. The Dark Presence itself adds to the atmosphere, but when it manifests in more direct ways (for example, as the Dark Presence Tornado), I found it kind of silly.

The Payoff

I don’t intend to give away the end of the game, just to describe my reaction to it. Alan Wake had me hooked for the first four episodes. Then it began to lose me. It’s not that it got fantastical—I love the fantastical, especially if it’s campy. I’m obsessed with Supernatural and Buffy, which are probably the top two contenders in that category.
However, I don’t like the formulaic. And I don’t like the formulaic when it’s trying to pretend it’s something edgy. I feel like the last two episodes of Alan Wake brought it from a Stephen King novel to an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark. Despite my nostalgic love for Are You Afraid of the Dark, that’s not a complement. (Sidebar: I have two seasons of Are You Afraid of the Dark on DVD, and the show did not hold up well over the years. The intro is still amazeballs, though.)

Grins and Gripes

  • Alan Wake is survival horror as it should be. And, due to my extensive experience with “new” survival horror titles (which are more like first-person shooters), I found it challenging to begin with. There were many time I found myself swearing as I made Alan sprint hopelessly towards the light, out of batteries and ammo, as Taken manifested all around him.
  • Speaking of Alan sprinting, I wish he could have been able to run for longer than ten seconds. You’re a writer, Alan. You work at home. Can’t you find a half an hour every day to spend on a treadmill? Some time to dedicate to working up a little stamina, in case you find yourself running for you life?
  • I found the “episode” format to be a little annoying. At first, I thought it was cool. As the game progressed, though, I found the episodes to be largely indistinguishable. I didn't think they followed their own plotlines or paced themselves distinctively. By the end, it seems like the creators separated the game into episodes only because Alan was conveniently rendered unconscious a lot, creating “natural” breaks to the storyline.
  • I really enjoyed the way the manuscript pages added to the story line. I found it especially effective when the book pages foreshadowed dramatic events, or offered a first-person perspective on a character other than Alan.
  • Sheriff Breaker was a good character—a strong woman, in charge of the police, who didn’t have to act too tough or was constantly undermined by the men around her. She reminded me of the awesome Sheriff Mills, from Supernatural.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: The Gamer-Girl Collection by Espionage Cosmetics

I'm not the girliest geek out there--I'd admit it. In fact, the only reason that this is a "geek girl" blog is because girls are so ostracized in geekdom. If we weren't a discriminated group, this would just be a "geek" blog. So I was very surprised with my reaction when The Geeky Hostess blogged about Espionage Cosmetics, and my first reaction was "I NEEDS IT."

This is very weird for a girl who, up until this point, had only one shade of eye shadow that was regularly used.

Of course, the products from Espionage Cosmetics are more than just eye shadow. However, I'd need my own fairy godmother to explain to me how to use these as anything but eye shadow. So, for the purpose of this review, it's eye shadow. SUPER FREAKIN' AWESOME EYESHADOW.

Did I give away the end of this review?

It looks like I'm holding it awkwardly because I'm trying to hide the chips in my nail polish. 

After reading the blog entry by The Geeky Hostess, I immediately went to the ThinkGeek website and looked at their offerings of color collections. Instantly, I fell in love with the Gamer-Girl collection ($27.99 USD on ThinkGeek, $28.00 on the Espionage Cosmetics website). This was particularly strange, since I tend to stick to neutrals, but how can you say no to colors named Epic, Nerd Rage, Quest Reward, and Guild Romance?

Epic, Quest Reward, Nerd Rage, Guild Romance (L-R)
 My only quibble with the set was that there was a lot of loose powder when I opened it--despite the fact that each container was sealed. Of course, the one that had powder all over the place was Quest Reward--arguably the darkest color. You can see it all over my fingers on the next picture, as well as the awesome seals (which took me a couple of minutes to figure out). It makes ordered make-up online more practical.

I took a couple pictures of the colors on my hands. The first is the colors in natural light.

Epic, Guild Romance, Nerd Rage, Quest Reward (L-R)
 The next is a picture of the colors on my hand in artificial light.

Epic, Guild Romance, Nerd Rage, Quest Reward (T-B)
 Aren't they beautiful? And the best part is, they last for a very long time! My previous problem with neutral colors (and, I'll admit it, cheap make-up) is that the colors have faded dramatically in just a couple of hours. The Espionage Cosmetics products, however, last most of the day (all of my day, actually, but I'm a late riser so I don't know if my lifestyle is comparable to yours). Even better, the colors have longevity but still clean up fairly easily. Sometimes I find myself scrubbing at my eyes, and it's nice to not have to do that with the Espionage Cosmetics products.

This is a picture of me. If you look close you can see how nice the Guild Romance color is. However, from here it just looks like my left eye is way bigger than my right eye. I need a better camera.
In fact, I was so happy with the Gamer-Girl collection that I ordered the Browncoats collection during the Cyber Monday sale. I haven't received it yet, but I'm looking forward to trying the colors Mrs. Reynolds, Reaver Red, Shiny and (my personal favorite) Sudden But Inevitable. I've also been eyeing the Gothic, Java, and FPS collections. Of course, I'm also lusting after the line The Collection of Ice and Fire collection that The Geeky Hostess featured, but I haven't been able to find it for sale. Maybe it's not available yet? All I really know is that this geek girl recommends Espionage Cosmetics and their color collections whole-heartedly. I'm extremely satisfied with the product, and I love being able to reply to complements on my make-up with a haughty "Yes, that color is called Nerd Rage."

This make-up pwns all others.

EDIT: Amanda Laing (the lovely lady in charge of graphic design at Espionage--go to the website to see her awesome work!) informed me that there is a way to get collections that you can't find on the website. If you e-mail, the company will help you out!

*This review is a result of my own purchase, not an agreement with the company. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

DIY: Tube Top

Hello, everyone! I hope all of you US readers had a good Thanksgiving yesterday--I know that I'm still almost too stuffed to move. I have for you a DIY I created last Wednesday (but then I managed to lose my camera. I know, I know. Lose my camera AGAIN). I have bought several t-shirts recently, and last week I decided to make one into a tube top. I think I'm going to alter it again and add a wider band at the top, but here's the current iteration.

This is the T-shirt I used. I got it from Threadless.

I began by cutting the top of the shirt. I cut it as close to the collar as possible, in order to have as much room as I could for the elastic top.

Here is the top with the first cut.

Next, I cut off the sleeves at the seams.

I pinned the raw edges from the sleeves, and then sewed a new seam. I then took in the side seams a little more.

Once I sewed the sides together, I made a hem for the top. This is wide enough for elastic to thread through the top.

(Sometimes, a kitty comes to help you sew. Hi, Duncan!)

One that seam was sewn, I threaded the elastic through the top. Once I did that, I sewed the ends of the elastic together and finished the seam.

Here it is, finished and on the floor.

And here are a couple photographs of the shirt on. You can see that this needs a little more on top in order to pull of the look I was going for. It would have been better if there was more space between the design and the top of the shirt, so I could have put a wider elastic in it.

Ta-da! Here's the end of the DIY. Let me know what you think! I have a product review to put up in a day or so, but have a good rest of the weekend.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween Party

This past weekend, my friends and I threw a Halloween party. We had some good geeky costumes--especially good for those people who do cosplay.

Here's a group picture (unfortunately, while our costumes are good, our pictures could have used a little bit of work. That's the problem when you're in a cramped apartment).

We have a Highlander, a Ghostbuster, a (hidden) Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Barbarella, Pygar, Finn, and a scientist Princesss Bubblegum.
Here are the boyfriend and I. I'm Zuul!Dana and he's a Ghostbuster. Unfortunately, this is the fullest picture of my costume that I can find.

I'm hoping to put something up this weekend--probably a t-shirt project. I found my camera, so that should help. here's hoping!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How Not to Mod-Podge Your Shelves

I did this project back in August, with the intention of making it into a DIY. It didn't turn out too badly, but it taught me some important lessons about how not to Mod Podge your shelves. I'm going to go back someday and fix it, but here's the project as it is now.

You all saw the shelf when I put up last week's owl DIY:

This is how the shelf looked when I began--plain black. A couple weeks earlier, I had re-painted the shelf, because the shelf had a splotchy paint job when I acquired it.

I made the first mistake when I cut the paper down to size. Well, that's probably not the truth. I made the first mistake when I selected this paper--it was too thin, so it ripped and peeled a few times when I was applying the top coat of Mod Podge. I put a layer of the Mod Podge on the shelf, then laid the paper over it. Then I applied enough Mod Podge to make a white layer on the shelf. The problem here, though, was the difficulty in placing the paper on the Mod Podge. I should have allowed the sheets to overlap a little, but I didn't want to do that for some reason I can't remember. It may have been because the paper was so thin that you would be able to tell if it overlapped.

If you look at the right side of the bottom shelf, you can see that the Mod Podge tool peeled off the top half of the paper. This might be because I didn't use the flattener roller tool soon enough after I put the Mod Podge on the paper. Thus, a layer of the paper stuck to the roller and peel it off.

Overall, though, I don't think the bookshelf looks bad. After the Mod Podge dried, I sealed it with the Pod Podge Spray Sealer (both the Mod Podge and the sealer have the "glossy" finish). It's sitting in my front room, and I got a couple of compliments on it when I hosted a Halloween party last night (I'll put up some pictures later--a lot of us had some good geeky costumes).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DIY: Cartoon Canvas!

Hello everyone!

Sorry things have been on hiatus for a while--all of my free time has been destroyed by school and my job. Can't they just let me spend all my time on the internet?

Today's DIY is a little strange. The pictures come from my cell phone, because I have misplaced my camera. Hopefully I'll find it in tine to post pictures of my Halloween costume (as I make it? I haven't decided yet...). The problem with taking pictures with your cell phone isn't so much the crappy quality (because an $84 camera isn't much better), but the fact that you keep misplacing it in-progress. In light of my featherbrained-ness, here is today's DIY!

First, decide what you want to paint on your canvas. I've been nursing an obsession over owls lately, so I decided to draw a simplistic cartoon owl. If you're using the technique I use here, you want your picture to be simplistic--otherwise, you could become seriously flabberghasted.

I drew the owl onto a piece of Con-Tact paper cut to the size of my canvas (roughly). Then I cut out the owl's body, his eyes, and his stomach feathers. Be careful to leave these pieces whole!

I then painted the background of the canvas. I went with a light yellow, because I thought it would look nice with the whole color scheme.

Then I peeled the back off the Con-Tact paper, and stuck the outline, eyes, and stomach of my owl to the canvas.

The next step was to paint in the owl's body! I was able to use the sponge-brush to color in his purple-ness. You need to be careful around the edges of the paper, though--if you're too vigorous in your brushing, you can peel back the edge of the paper and mess up your lines (which I did a couple times here, even though this is my second time using this technique).

Then I went in and painted in his features! Here, I've painted his wings, stomach feathers, feet, and eye-area brown, and his eyes black.

 Once you're done giving the creature features, you're finished as soon as the paint fries! Here's my owl (I've been calling him Peanut-Butter-Jelly-And-Banana-Sandwich, because that's what he reminds me of) on my bookshelf! The bookshelf was going to be a DIY, but then I seriously messed it up. It was just mod-podged paper on a bookshelf anyway--nothing too exciting.

You can also see the Halloween card my Grandma sent me! Hi Grandma! (Just kidding, my grandma can't work electronics so she's not on the internet.)

I hope you enjoy this DIY as much as I did (despite the pathetic pictures). I'm getting quite attached to Peanut-Butter-Jelly-And-Banana-Sandwich, and I'm sure you'll be just as fond of whichever friend you make yourself!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: Revolution

When I first saw the promos for Revolution this summer, I was insanely excited. Why? Because I thought that they had decided to turn S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse series into a television show. I have only read the first two books so far (my mom introduced me to them only recently), and I have found them to be highly engaging. And with the media’s current love affair with apocalypses (apocalypsi?), I thought it was an obvious choice for network television.
Of course, I then went on Stirling’s website to see what he thought of the adaptation. And that was when I found that there was no connection to the book series. It was strange, I thought, that they would make something so similar without any connection to Stirling’s camp.
I decided to wait until the show premiered to make any judgments, though.
The first episode of Revolution aired on Monday night (NBC 10/9c). The episode opened with scenes from the “night the lights went out” and then progressed fifteen years into the future. I found the first scene to be very effective—it really showed the enormity of the situation. I think the planes just dropping out of the skies really did it.
The future, however, was a little strange. I like that they decided to go forward far enough that civilization was starting to come back—it distinguishes this show from other post-apocalyptic shows.
The main character is Charlie (the creators decided to show you she’s sassy by giving her a boy’s name), and she reminds me of another Kripke creation. I’m talking about Jo Harvelle from Supernatural. Apparently, Kripke likes young female characters who can talk the talk, but often need to rely on others to save their butts. Luckily, Charlie runs into the obligatory Mysterious Forest Hunk. Just like Jo, however, Charlie has a sharply intelligent matron at her side—though this is her disliked step-mother Rachel. I found that no matter how much Charlie seems to dislike her, I liked Rachel more than I liked Charlie. I also always enjoy Billy Burke (here as Uncle Miles).
Their group is threatened by the militia, run by the (also obligatory) ruthless individual who seized power after the “apocalypse.” They kill Charlie’s father, and take her brother—which is the catalyst event which sets her on her journey and connects her with her long-lost uncle. They think that Charlie’s dad and her uncle know how to turn the lights back on.
At there end, though, there is some evidence that electrical power is not completely gone—which is something I don’t quite understand. How can only a few people have a power grid that connects them across a country? Of course, there are some other issues that may or may not be answered later on. If you want to enjoy this show, you’ll probably just ignore them. Another issue I have, though, is that individuals don’t have guns because it’s illegal for civilians to own them. Since when does that stop people? Also, can’t we use wind or hydropower?
The rules of Revolution seem to be that the electrical grid is gone (and very difficult to turn back on). The rule of the Emberverse are different—all technology since gunpower is obsolete. It makes things more interesting, but the laws of Revolution are probably easier to get past a mass audience.
I would definitely suggest that you give Revolution a try. The news outlets seem to think that it will be a hit, and I can see why it would be popular. I, however, won’t be watching. It’s mostly due to the scene at the very end of the episode (which I won’t spoil), but also due to the fact that I see it as a poor man’s Emberverse. I would give it a score of 5/10, though that may just be the stereotypical pissy geek. I didn't find most of the characters to be enjoyable or intriguing--Charlie especially turned me off to the series--and I'm not sure if the creators even know what's going on with the power. 
If you don't mind a little fantasy mixed with your sci-fi apocalypse (though that element doesn't present itself until later), I would suggest that you check out the Emberverse series instead. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Etsy Tuesday: Firefly/Serenity

This week's subject for Etsy Tuesday is in honor of the puppy my parents adopted this weekend:
This is Zoe! (I know the picture kind of sucks--my mom took it). Mom and Dad were asking for puppy names, but they didn't want anything geeky. I managed to slip in Zoe, though, for Zoe Washburne of Firefly fame. Isn't she cute?

For anyone who's interested and in the Chicagoland area, Zoe has three sisters who are also available for adoption: Paige, Rene, and Milynne.

Anyway, on to what you're really here for--Etsy Tuesday!

I really like the leatherwork on this first piece--I think it's beautiful. The contrast between the main background, the lettering, and the background for the lettering is just the perfect amount. It's also one of the most badass geek flasks I've ever seen. But really, the first thing that caught my eye was the craftmanship. This is sold in the shop GrimmSister, which sells a lot of other leatherwork.

$45.00 USD
I don't typically like these Euro-style stickers, but this one makes my inner geek giggle with joy. Maybe it's the appropriateness of putting "shiny" on a car? Maybe it's because non-geeks won't get the reference and think 'well, it would be shinier if you washed it." Either way, this is cool. AND inexpensive. It's sold in the shop NalaSerenity, owned by Kimber McDermott.

$4.00 USD

This pendant is nice and understated. I particularly like that it is bronze, and not another metal. It's the same Serenity symbols as the flask above, but I like the hand-smashed (for lack of a better word--I don't know much about metal work and I like the word smash) imprint of the letters on the circles. This is sold at the store Piece of Shine, run by Cindy Pope.

$30.00 USD
I also like this Wash quote bracelet from the same store.
$35.00 USD
Finally, here's a Shepherd Book print that I like--mostly because I find that the expression on the drawing's face matches the quote perfectly. There is a print for most of the other characters as well (though I didn't notice Zoe or Wash), as well as a print of the group. I'd suggest checking it out, since it also has The Dark Tower and Marvel prints. The shop is Bensmind, run by Ben Smith. They also have multiple-purchase discounts--2 for $30, 3 for $45, and 5 for $75.
$19.99 USD

Well, tomorrow I promise I will put up my review of NBC's new tv show Revolution. I was going to put it up today, but then I realized it was Tuesday--and Tuesdays traditions cannot change. I also have a tube-top tutorial that I hope to get up by Saturday. You might get three posts in a week--craaazy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Etsy Tuesday: Avatar: The Last Airbender

So I've been completely caught up in learning how to teach a class, and I haven't written anything on Red Dead Redemption or Portal 2 (which I finished a couple weeks ago). I've decided that I probably won't--it's too untimely. There was something I wanted to muse about regarding Red Dead Redemption, but I managed to do so with a friend.

I'm also trying to salvage a couple of DIYs, so hopefully one will be up by Saturday.

So, back to your scheduled programming: Etsy Tuesday--Avatar: The Last Airbender edition.

Today's Etsy Tuesday was prompted by my sister. Back in August, my brother and I were talking about our Avatar cosplays for Chicago Comic Con. We were going as Azula and Zuko, and my sister wanted to know what she could be. Of course, I told her Appa. Then I went on Etsy and found this for her:

Though she didn't get it (and neither my brother nor sister ended up cosplaying with me), I still think this is the cutest thing in the world. I might even get it myself for my workplace Halloween costume and air it with some white clothes. I doubt anyone in the Political Science department will get it, but I will still enjoy it.

The shop GeekinOut also has a particularly adorable R2D2 hat, a Gir hat with ear flaps, and a Cthulu mask, all crocheted. There's tons of other products, too (twelve pages of options!), so I'd definitely recommend giving it a look.

Next up is another great option for my geeky-enough-that-I-love-it-but-not-distracting-enough-so-I-can-teach-in-it jewelry collection: an Earth Kingdom pendant. It's beautiful, and only those people who are familiar with the show will recognize it as anything but a regular pendant. It's made by Meagan Dibb, and sold in the shop MeaganDibbJewellery. This is another shop with tons of geeky options--you'll be sure to find something that suits your fancy.

$20.00 USD

While I would love to own this next set of glasses, the truth is that I own way too many glasses as it is (seriously, my cabinet is completely full). So one of you will have to buy these, so I can live vicariously through you. These are a set of pint glasses with the Avatar elemental nations/tribes symbols etched on them. I particularly like how well-sized these symbols are--they're commanding of the front of the glasses, but you can still see the whole thing. They're sold in the shop Partywareinc, which also sells these in shotglass size.

$46.00 USD

I have always wanted my own air bison, so I love the idea of this Appa pillow pet (I know, I know, apparently MoMo gets no love). It's constructed just like the pillow pets you'd find in stores, except that Appa is way better than a hippo or a moose. It's made by Meghan O'Laoghaire and is sold in the shop DemonicDJKitty.
$40.00 USD

I particularly like this final piece because it's not so blatantly attached to Avatar, but it is inspired by the White Lotus secret society. I think it's a beautiful piece, with the pearls, the flowers, and the metalwork behind them. The shop owner, KA, makes beautiful jewelry and a few more pieces are connected with ATLA in ways that I find clever. This is from the shop jewelrybending, which you should definitely check out if you like Avatar or Asian-inspired jewelry.

$43.00 USD

Well, that's all for today! Hopefully I'll get a hang of this lesson-planning thing soon and have time to be a better blogger. As usual, if you have any particular theme you think I should pursue for Etsy Tuesday next week, leave a comment!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Etsy Tuesday: Lord of the Rings

This week's Etsy Tuesday post is in honor of the Bag End Silver Locket necklace I ordered a few weeks ago from the Enchanted Leaves store on Etsy. It came in the mail promptly, it's well-made, and I absolutely love it! I wear it several times a week, and I've developed this awful habit of clicking the locket open and closed when I am thinking. I've gotten so many compliments on it already! Thank you, Nedda and Aaron! You can also visit them at!

$24.95 USD

Now, onto the traditional Etsy Tuesday round-up!

The first thing that caught my eye is this set of posters. It might be because I have been decorating my new apartment for the past week, or it might be my natural love of minimalist designs, but I wish I had these posters instead of my set of three LotR movie posters! They're made by Marcus, of the shop Posterinspired AND I WOULD PUT THEM RIGHT OVER MY BED. Sigh.

$40.00 USD

This next product made me laugh out loud--literally. I'm considering getting one for my car as soon as I get my paycheck (whenever it decides to come). It's pretty inexpensive, and I couple probably put it places other than my car if the fancy struck me (the description mentions laptops). It was made by animevinyl, owner of the shop of the same name.

$8.00 USD

I was actually going to buy this next item, until I got to my apartment and realized the walls are finished with a tactile design--so it just wouldn't work. I was going to hang my three LotR posters under it. It was going to look completely awesome. Trust me. This, along with plenty of other awesome decals, is made by Tressa M. Hopkinson of the shop Classic Design Wall Art. Seriously, I'm crushed that I can't put this up in my apartment.

$29.00 USD

This next one may be cheating a little--it's a Hobbit quote, not a Lord of the Rings quote--but I had to include it. This is my second favorite dragon quote, after Daenerys Targaryen's "He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon." It may be my next purchase for myself: it's a nice touch of geek to wear when I'm teaching. It's made by Carla Ekman, owner of the shop Cobweb Corner.
$24.95 USD

That's all for today, everyone! Tomorrow I am going to write a reflection on Red Dead Redemption, which I just finished on Sunday. It's not a review because, face it, the game's over two years old. I'm also hoping to see ParaNorman this weekend, and I'll review that too. Also, I will hopefully post a DIY or tutorial this weekend. But first, there will be my reflections on "Grand Theft Horse" (Thanks, Yahtzee).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicago Comic Con: 8/10 and 8/11

I was good this week, which means I was a bad blogger. I know I said that I would post my reflection on Chicago Comic Con up earlier this week (Sunday or Monday) and it is now Wednesday. Which, sadly, means my review is incredibly less detailed than I intended it to be. Also, I missed yet ANOTHER week of Etsy Tuesday, and I am sad about it because I am going to use to it also review my two first Etsy purchases. They make me RIDICULOUSLY happy. 

And speaking of ridiculously happy, I spent two out of three days this weekend at Chicago Comic Con, instead of packing for my move. I was so thrilled to go for the second year in a row that even Chicago's horrible traffic couldn't dampen my excitement. Even the line to get in couldn't bring me down. And things only got better when the first thing I saw after walking through the gates was this:

Star Trek Uniforms

Me (and my Batman dress!) next to the Admiral Janeway uniform. 
One of the things I enjoy the most about Chicago Comic Con is the large number of cosplay groups that come. Here is the set-up for the Chicago Division Ghostbusters group.

My biggest issue at Comic Con (and C2E2 in the Spring) is that I spend too much money. Here is my first purchase: a robot ring. I can't wait to wear it to teach!

On the first day, I saw the Sam Trammell panel and the Star Trek Captains panel (William Shatner, Scott Bakula, and Avery Brooks). Sam Trammell was hilarious, and seemed like a great guy. He shared a lot of interesting stories, most of which featured him naked. Unfortunately, my pictures of the panels suck.

The Star Trek Captains panel was alright. I found the moderator to be obnoxious, and so did the panelists (which provided some amusement). However, Shatner and Bakula seemed content to let Brooks answer most of the questions. While Brooks is very intelligent and impressive when he speaks, it really didn't give us a great behind the scenes look. The biggest issue, though, was the more that Brooks spoke, the more the fans asking questions felt like they needed to phrase things to sound more intelligent--and they often failed. 

For Comic Con, I made an Azula costume. However, many things didn't pan out right (this was my first attempt at cosplay), so my costume ended up being more generic fire nation. My fellow geeks seemed to still enjoy it, though, and I was flattered with the number of pictures I was asked for. 

Though I did have an issue with heat--my hands and my feet swelled up like balloons! I had to change out of my costume halfway through, and it took more than a day for the swelling to go away. You can't really tell in this picture, but my hands were two times their normal size. I didn't realize until I went to pay for an ice cream cone and my sister started laughing hysterically. 

Swollen hands :(
My boyfriend's sister (in a steampunk costume) and me.

On Saturday, I saw the Tom Felton panel and the Kevin Sorbo panel. I found Tom Felton to be surprisingly affable, and enjoyed the panel a lot. A little girl asked him if it was fun to film the scene where he turned into a ferret and he responded, "Yes, but it took me MONTHS to get that down." He also spoke very affectionately to his fans, which is always great to see. Kevin Sorbo was great, as always. I got his autograph, which will go above my desk in my new apartment!

My friend is trying to get the autograph he got for his girlfriend to dry... which led to a very interesting sight.
He ended up having to carry it through the con, which  resulted in a lot of stares. He hammed it up.
I enjoy Chicago Comic Con more than C2E2 because I find that its panels are of better quality, and they have great displays. C2E2 seemed more to me like a shopping trip, where you could also pick up autographs (from people you may or may not want autographs from). I still bought a lot of stuff at Chicago Comic Con, though! Here is a picture of my loot!

Everything I bought, my Girl Gamer shirt front-and-center.

All the art I bought for my new apartment!
To end this article, here are a few great cosplay pictures!

I ignore the girls and look at the Bat and the original Batmobile,

An awesome Captain America cosplay! The shield is made from the roof of a car!

I found Carmen Sandiego. And I also happened to find Waldo.
Gondor Soldier.

Green Arrow!

Doctor Rockso, the Rock and Roll Clown. (He does cocaine.)
Poor Red Shirt. (I got his attention by yelling "Red Shirt!" and my sister  was appalled.)

Finally, this Arkham Asylum Scarcrow is my favorite. I think he was part of the Chicago DC Cosplay group.
If you happen to know any of these cosplayers, let me know so I can properly credit them! I hope you all have a good day! I will be without cable and internet for a little while, so don't expect any updates until the beginning of next week!