Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Best of Both Worlds Showing

On Thursday I got to take a break from doing ALL OF THE POLITICAL SCIENCE and go see the screening of The Best of Both Worlds at the local movie theater.

It was excellent. I dragged my boyfriend along with me and, even though he has the bad habit of judging everything that was, is, or ever will be put into visual media form, I think he had fun, too.

The showing began with a LOT of trailers and advertisements for TNG, TOS, Star Trek, and DVD/Blu-Rays for sale. It was cool (though it got a little old), but these ads were full of spoilers--which made me feel bad for people who were talked into going by fans, since they weren't able to experience BoBW as we once did. They went into the episode knowing that Picard was taken by the Borg, assimilated, taken back by the Enterprise crew, and turned back into a human. I felt like they should have flashed "spoiler alert" across the screen. 

They introduced the episode with a retrospective documentary that mostly centered on the making of BoBW, fueled by cast and crew interviews. Once again, it was full of spoilers, but I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. I love hearing what the cast thought about their roles and the storyline. I love hearing about the challenges the crew had to overcome. And I loved, loved, loved the discussion of the creation of the Borg and their ship. When I was a kid, I thought the Borg were some of the most frightening villains of all time (they're still scary, philosophically, but they don't give me nightmares anymore). Now they're some of my favorite villains, and I enjoyed hearing about the evolution of their concept.

The restoration of the episode gave it excellent video quality--the colors were brighter, the objects (and people) were crisper, and even the sound was better than what I get on Netflix. My only quibble with the episode came from the fact that they fused the two parts together so directly. I think removing the cliffhanger so completely robbed the story of some of its power. But that might just be me.

Everyone in the theater had a good time. People laughed together, people were grim together--the feeling in the room was electrifying. There was also a sense of comradery. Everyone was excited to see BoBW. It was like being at a midnight premier or at a con. Overall, it was definitely a great night.

Speaking of cons, the cast of TNG is going to be in Chicago during the last weekend of May/first weekend of June, and I only just found out about it. And, of course, tickets are all sold out. They're going to have tickets available for the vendors/signing area, but they have some strange language on there that makes me wonder if we'll be able to get autographs or photo ops with these tickets. Is there anyone out there with any knowledge regarding this? Has Creation Entertainment ever done this before? Any help would be swell.

Now, it's back to the mines that is the end of the semester...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Etsy Tuesday: Decals

That beauty that you see here is HAL. Why HAL? Well, I already have GLaDOS (my tablet) and Skynet (my laptop). She's (yes, she) not quite complete yet--I have a new fan, video card, and power supply coming later this week--but she's all prettied up on the outside and ready to share. You probably recognize those vinyl decals from last week's Legend of Zelda Etsy Tuesday, and all I have to say is how happy they make me. Yes, yes, I know it's not important--functionality determines whether or not a computer is good. But in a few days HAL will be a god among computers, and will obviously be The Whole Package. Thanks to pretty Zelda art.

Thanks again to the Decal Ninja shop for making me so pleased with a purchase!

I've always toyed with putting decals on my laptop, but ultimately decided against it (what, with the fact that I use it mostly in a "professional" capacity. Professional is in quotes because I'm a grad student). Now that I have decals on my HAL, though, I'm really hankering for one for Skynet. So here are some decals I'd consider for my laptop. 

This Etsy Tuesday is a little hurried because I have 98,000 things to do in the next it-seems-like-forever-but-is-really-just-finals week. Instead of skimping on the goods, though, I'll mostly shut up and let you enjoy the awesome geekery.

1) Sold by My Geekery, found at this link

$5.00 USD

2) Sold by Perfectly Aligned*, found at this link

$5.00 USD

3) I also love Perfectly Aligned's Smaug decal.

$3.00 USD
*Perfectly Aligned has decals that fit on either side of the tracking pad, which is probably more useful for the girl who is trying to be discretely geeky at work!

4) Sold by ECK Designs, found at this link.

$6.50 USD

4) Sold by DisaDesigns, found at this link.

$5.00 USD

5) Also by DisaDesigns, this is ADORABLE.

$6.75 USD

Of course, all of these shops have plenty of different designs, so shop around! You know I love to. 

In other news, I've been playing Mass Effect on HAL and I'm pretty sure I'm legitimately addicted. I found myself playing last night without making the conscious decision to open the game and start it. And then I realized I'd been playing for an HOUR AND A HALF. This is all when I shouldn't have even turned on HAL, let alone started playing games. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review: Emporium Arcade Bar

This past summer, a friend of mine told me about a bar near his apartment in Chicago. This bar, he said, was especially awesome because it was half bar, half arcade. So naturally, when I was planning my 25th birthday party, I thought of Emporium Arcade Bar.

My early experience with Emporium was great. I sent the bar an e-mail (their preferred mode of contact) and asked about hosting a small party there. They were pleased to help me out, and I reserved two tables for 8pm. They also game me the group deal on tokens--$40 worth of tokens for $30.

The bar itself is pretty great. It gets a little crowded and the positioning of the bar makes it a little hard to get from one end of the arcade to the other. Another downside is the positioning of the tables—they’re all up front, near the door, so it got really cold.

Of course, those were really the only issues I had with the place (which weren’t that detrimental, to be honest). The beers were good. I tried the Goose Island Green Line as well as their hard cider (which a friend bought for me, so I didn’t get the name). They focus on craft beers and whisky, but they have a full bar. You can see their beverage selections here.

The games, however, are the best part of the bar by far. They have classic machines, and I was happy to play games all night (to the extent of neglecting my birthday drinking). I earned several high scores (though the scores are obviously reset often), which made me feel like a boss. Despite the fact that the bar became very crowded, it was never much trouble to get to a game. At the most, I only had to wait ten minutes or so for a game I wanted to open up—but there was always something fun and open for me to play while I was waiting for another game.

Their game selection was especially excellent. The bar had all of the essential classics, all in their original condition. Here’s just a taste of what Emporium has to offer (you can find the full list here):

Space Invaders
Super Mario Bros.
Donkey Kong
Burger Time
Duck Hunt

In short, I would most definitely recommend that you visit Emporium the next time you’re in Chicago (or, if you live near Chicago, visit sometime really soon). It was a great night, I had a great time, and I’m pretty sure that you will, too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Etsy Tuesday: The Legend of Zelda

The purchase that inspired today's Etsy Tuesday isn't from Etsy, but the website certainly has a  lot of amazing Legend of Zelda-inspired pieces. Earlier today (after my paycheck was direct-deposited), I bought a Small Key necklace from Fangamer. Here's a picture. They also have a Boss Key necklace, which I also wanted, but I wanted the antique finish and they were out of stock. Here's a picture of what I purchased:

$17.00 USD
I was introduced to Fangamer by Kaitlin Stewart, who runs the PwnLove instagram account. She's on a quest to wear a geek-inspired outfit every day for a year, ad has already made it this far! As well as showing her outfits for the day, Kaitlin also shows a lot of cool geek-clothing and accessories that you can buy! (So do it, like I did).

Anyway, on to Etsy!

The first piece isn't available right now, but you can pre-order it for May. I actually had a difficult time choosing which of the magical arrows I should feature--the site has all three available in necklace form, and a variety as earrings. I went with the light arrows, though. They're the ones you can't save Hyrule without, after all. They look exactly like they do in the game, which makes my little geek heart squeal with glee. The shop, MachtaNest, also has a cure Heart Piece necklace. From what I can tell, most of the pieces are constructed with polymer clay, which allows them to sustain the look of the game.

$13.00 USD 

The next piece is a necklace that features all three spiritual stones from Ocarina of Time, as well as the Triforce. I like the construction of the necklace, as well as the theme. TheUniqueVTBoutique sells mostly Zelda-themed jewelry, all of which are really cool. They also have a set of spiritual stone earrings, which I also JUST. LOVE.

$40.00 USD

I think that these Rupee Pouches are just extremely adorable. Personally, I think they would be excellent for keeping polyhedral dice in, and also excellent at making all your gamer buddies jealous. They're sold by the shop RedDragonPropDesign, which focuses on cosplay props (so, really cool).

$23.00 USD

I also just bought this The Legend of Zelda bumper sticker, to put on the side of my new desktop. I'm really excited, mostly because I didn't like the case, with its touch of orange (I bought the gaming computer off of someone else, so it wasn't 100% what I wanted, but it was probably a quarter of what I would have cost me to construct it myself). (And, by construct it myself, I unabashedly mean make my boyfriend build it for me). But this complements the orange, while making it something I enjoy! So, yay!

$4.00 USD
After clicking around the DecalNinja shop, I also bought this to go with it.

$5.00 USD
I will have the coolest desktop tower in the land.

As usual, I cannot resist something to put my alcohol in, especially if that something is blue. So, of course, I love these Hylian wine glasses. Most excellent. I also have difficulty resisting etched glass, so here we are. The Illuminated Lion shop is currently celebrating its 1000th sale, with 15% off all orders in April. I go. buying more things. Of course. I was not made to be a poor grad student. (What, it comes in TARDIS?)

$30.00 USD

Finally, Peregrine Studios sells rings inscribed with the songs from Ocarina of Time. I have nothing to say to that but SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

$59.99 USD

Speaking of The Legend of Zelda, I'm going to marathon play* Ocarina of Time, with daily updates here and live Tweeting. Depending on how long it takes me to play OoT, I will tackle Majora's Mask, as well. So keep an eye out for this spectacular event starting when the semester ends (Roughly, May 14th)!

*By marathon play, I mean spending all my free time playing. Not skipping work or bed. I wish I could, but I just spent tons of money making this Etsy Tuesday, so...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fave Five

I'm a little pissed at Etsy today (see this article from The Mary Sue for reasons), so I'm skipping Etsy Tuesday today. Also because I'm too poor right now (why, car, why?!) so I don't want to foray onto the site and risk NEEDING TO SPEND MONIES.

So, in place of Etsy Tuesday, here's a list of my current five favorite things. (But it's getting close to the end of the semester, so spare time to do them in seems like a beautiful dream).

1) Pandemic

I played Pandemic for the first time during International Tabletop Day at The Wandering Dragon in Plainfield, IL. Basically, I'm hooked. The gentleman who taught me to play actually runs Pandemic tournaments, so I may need to groom a team and then kick everyone's asses.

2) The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

This is an excellent and entertaining adaptation of Pride and Prejudice into a series of web diaries. They just ended, but I only recently started watching so I'm still on a LBD kick. I watched the entire series in about 48 hours. I could not stop. Just couldn't. I didn't get any work done. I did drink a fair amount, though. Here's a link to the first video.

3) Left 4 Dead on Steam

Seriously. I've just gotten back into playing online and I don't remember why I left. No, wait, I do--jerky guy gamers, who disparaged me for being a girl even though I was playing better than they were. Actually, it was probably because I play better than they do. Anyway, nowadays I only play with friends, which makes the whole thing more enjoyable. My user name is Tabloid, if anyone's interested in joining me.

4) Vaginal Fantasy on Geek and Sundry

Vaginal Fantasy is a monthly Sci-Fi/Fantasy Romance book club hosted by Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, Kiala Kazbee and Veronica Belmont. The ladies host a Google Hangout once a month where they discuss the books (and everyone else jabbers like mad in the comments/the live stream feed/Twitter). What's really great about it, though, is the community on Goodreads. I suggest you check it out. I'm also currently reading this month's main pick, Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher, and enjoying it a lot (though sometimes I've just been like "Whaaaat?").

5) Frisbee Golf


I have a course about fifty yards away from my apartment so, yeah, I've been spending a lot of time there.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Best Video Game Character Introductions

Earlier this week, IGN ran an article called The Best First Encounters in Video Games. It listed those character introductions that the author thought were the coolest or had the biggest (personal) impact on the player. While I agreed with the ones that I, myself, had experienced, there were a few that I thought were missing. So here's my addendum to this list--Geekphoria's Official List of Best Video Game Character Introductions. This includes re-introductions, but it must be you seeing or meeting the character for the first time in that game. So while you may know a character from a previous iteration in that franchise, if you haven't interacted with him or her before then it totally counts for this list. The list is also female-heavy, but that's probably just because female characters were largely absent from the initial list.

Warning: There may be some spoilers.

Sheik (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

     Part of my decision to include Sheik may be nostalgia--if you've been around the blog at all, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of Ocarina of Time. It was the first game I got with my N64, and the first thing I played when I was old enough to really enjoy all aspects of a game. It's why I'll always be loyal to Nintendo, even now that I've moved on the world of HD FPS and RPGs.
     When Link awakens in the Temple of Time, it's obvious that things are not as they were when he was transported into the Chamber of Sages. Once you go outside, you see that Hyrule--though never innocuous-has been transformed into a dark and scary place. Although Sheik is certainly not a warm and fuzzy, when he appears you know you're not in this alone. Sheik catches you up on what you've missed out on, and sends you on your way with as much help and guidance as he can (while still keeping that air of mystery). Sheik is also, obviously, very bad ass. I remember wishing I could play as Sheik (which, technically, you can in Super Smash Brothers: Brawl, but it's obviously not the same). At the very least, I wanted to be best bros. When Sheik shows up, you know someone else is out there to fight the good fight which is good--although you're the hero of time, no hero should be alone.

Clementine (The Walking Dead)

     As Lee Everett, you find yourself alone as the world begins to fall apart around you. You've seen the dead come back to life, you've been chased by them, and you're searching for help. Of course, this is the zombie apocalypse, and instead of finding help you're almost eaten. Clementine appears to help you, giving you the tools you need to kill the zombie and escape. She tells you that she has been hiding in her treehouse since the world went to hell. The zombie who attacked you had been her baby-sitter--her parents were out of town, which you know if you listened to the answering machine. She also informs you that she considered dropping a hammer on your head as you walked under the treehouse, is case you were a bad man. She's introduced as a character who definitely has some capacity to take care of herself--though she's still a kid and, you suspect, now alone in the world.  It builds up the character in your mind, while still keeping you sympathetic and making you want to take care of her. It's probably the greatest introduction on this list.

Wheatley (Portal 2)

Taken from
     Ah, Wheatly. In Portal 2, you wake up in what appears to be a hotel room. It doesn't seem like any of the events of the original portal have taken place--that is, until Wheatley shows up and the whole facade falls away. Wheatley is introduced as a companion and a rescuer. He's going to help you escape from Aperture, which has definitely seen better days. Wheatley's introduction is great because he appears to be a slightly bumbling but helpful little robo-consciousness and is entertaining while helpful. Of course, then he teaches you the lesson that power corrupts. Without this initial introduction, though, Wheatley would be nothing more than GLaDOS 2.0.

Bonnie MacFarlane (Red Dead Redemption)

     Bonnie is introduced shortly after she saves your life. When you were left to die at the side of the road (something that apparently happens to John Marston more than it should), she takes you to the doctor and lets you recover at the ranch she and her father run. It's great to see a female character introduced as a savior, and the first few minutes of character building show that Bonnie's tough, strong, driven, and competent. I wish the character was a little more developed throughout (you spend most of the game away from her and the ranch after this set of quests), but Bonnie certainly makes a good first impression.

Jill Valentine (Resident Evil 6)
     Jill Valentine is the only character on the list that was first introduced outside of the listed game. Jill, of course, is a hero in her own right. We've played as her, and kicked zombie and bad guy ass. We know that she has everything under control and--thanks to cut scenes--know that she has died fighting Albert Wesker. Of course, later on in the game we find out that she hasn't died. Wesker introduces her to us again, but she's under some type of mind control (and suddenly blonde). Chris suddenly experiences ALL OF THE EMOTIONS, but so does the player. Here's a character you've grown attached to over the years, rendered as a fraction of herself and not under her own control. You want to help Jill, but it's not really a damsel-in-distress moment (especially as she proceeds to kick your ass). You want Jill to get back to being awesome, and that's now your main motivation.

Do you agree with my choices? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.