Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Newest paper sculpt project!

Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.

An interview with Adam Harum of Transolar Galactica.

They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!

Doctor Who themed lip balm!

Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.

Minecraft paper sculpt!

My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!

A TARDIS desk lamp!

Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Bit of Geek Episode 7!

NOW with a NEW and IMPROVED formula! Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saria makeup and costume with Brittany Lauren

Hello A Bit of Geekers, it's time for another Look post with Brittany Lauren of Monsters & Mayhem! This week brings you the makeup, costume, and wig of Saria from Ocarina of Time. I assembled this costume for myself a few years ago for Halloween and it dovetailed nicely as a makeup look for the website.

ocarina of time saria cosplay
Saria cosplay. Dat Kokiri.
Brittany did an amazing job of creating smooth, glowing makeup to complete the faerie-ish aesthetic of the Kokiri children. By far the most exciting aspect of the afternoon was having elf ears put onto my regular, boring, human ears. I have always wanted elf ears, so it was a literal dream come true! Brittany is very skilled with tone blending and colors, so the elf ears looked incredibly realistic. One more best part? She let me keep the ears! Now I can elf it up whenever I want.

Here's an in-progress video from Brittany, followed by more photos!

The elf ear in its before and after phase! So realistic! Photos from Monsters & Mayhem.

 Left/Before: not my best photo, but it's the pure nekked face awaiting makeup, so you'd
better enjoy it! Photo from Monsters & Mayhem. Right/After: glowing skin and elf ears 
anxious for the green wig!

 And now, it's frolicking time.
Where would you expect to find a Kokiri child? The forest, of course.
Be sure to check out Monsters & Mayhem for additional photos as well as more detailed information about the makeup and techniques used for the Saria look.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom film review (hint: it's positive)

moonrise kingdom movie poster
Moonrise Kingdom movie poster. Source.
Last weekend I watched Moonrise Kingdom, a quirky film from Wes Anderson that follows the story of two twelve year olds who fall in love and decide to run away together. The film is set in 1965, on a cluster of islands off of the New England coast. The cast of characters is stellar with the inclusion of Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, and Edward Norton, as well as newcomers to the scene Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, who play the love stricken pre-teens, Sam and Suzy.

The film has a muted color aesthetic, and a light, whimsical feel. This is coupled nicely with off-beat and wonderful performances across the board. Gilman and Hayward portray strangely mature and straight-faced youths with almost unsettling ease.  The nature of the two children reflects the universe that Anderson created: the children are kings, and the adults seem to have no control over their own lives or the lives of their children.

moonrise kingdom bill murray
Our unusual adults. Source.
Moonrise Kingdom maintains a believable facade for most of its hour and a half run, but a few plot points near the middle and end disrupts the film’s continuity and reality. I wish I could say that they didn’t remove me from the storytelling experience, but they did. This is the only negative thing I have to say about the film, though!

It’s wonderful to see such a unique (and uniquely told) story. Anderson has a gift for films that wander the road less traveled, and I wish I could thank him for that. Upon leaving the theatre I felt a calm contentment that is rarely found after a trip to the movies. I immediately wanted to watch Moonrise Kingdom all over again just to be a part of that world, and of the love story of Suzy and Sam.

Who can resist a man with a raccoon hat? Source.
I give Moonrise Kingdom nine out of ten golden apples. The story and cast were quite complimentary, and aside from the one continuity hang-up I experienced near the middle, it had no pacing or plot issues. If it’s in a theatre near you, then definitely go and see it!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Pixar's Brave inspired paper sculpt!

Around April of this year I decided that I wanted to have a Brave paper sculpt to debut today for the release of the film! The idea was exciting and all, but I wasn't sure what the final piece was going to look like. I spent plenty of time searching through promotional art and screen shots, as well as trailers for the film. Ultimately, stylized art pieces from Pixar pushed me to my final direction.

I'm still fairly new to the paper sculpting scene, and this piece has been my most ambitious yet! The intricate nature of the logo, plus the multiple stacked layers, was an incredible challenge. I hope that you enjoy this piece, and I can't wait to get more work out into the world!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

8-bit makeup with Brittany Lauren!

A few weeks ago on Twitter I shared a photographic sneak peek of an exciting adventure with a makeup artist named Brittany Lauren. She had an interesting and unique video game/8-bit look in mind and wanted to team up with A Bit of Geek to bring her mind's eye image to life!

I'm excited to finally be able to share the full look with you all, including in-progress photos that Brittany compiled into a video. I also tossed a few questions her way so that you can learn more about her process, as well as some insight into potential future geek makeup posts!

Be sure to check out her post over on tumblr for additional information!


Q: Did you have the finalized look in mind when you started?

A: I didn't. I just had a concept in mind, but not a finished look. Just bits and pieces.

Before! Face primed and ready to be painted to life!
Were there any particularly challenging aspects?

Covering your brows were probably the most challenging part of the makeup, but mostly it was just time consuming.

What would you do differently if you were to recreate the look?

I think that I would design some lashes and do the lips a little more over drawn. Just take to take it up a notch.

8 bit makeup
After! Bright-eyed and 8-bit-ified!
Are there any other video game related looks that you are hoping to do?

Hummm....that is a good question. I am looking forward to creating a Link look, but right now I don't have anything in mind. Any game related makeup that I do next will probably be color-scheme inspired, not recreating any characters (besides Link).

How much prior experience did you have with this kind of makeup?

This is my first game inspired makeup, but for one of my jobs I created some Super Hero looks and those are always fun for me to do.

8 bit makeup zelda nes
Brittany has a slammin' collection of NES titles. I had to show them off.
In your post you mentioned that Mario is one of your favorite NES games, but is it your *most* favorite?

Duck Hunt! But our current TV isn't I haven't played in long time.


Big thanks once again to Brittany Lauren! We have more projects in the works and I can't wait to share them here. Check out her complete portfolio, too!

Rounding things off with a closer look at the blush work and my  attempt at a
nonchalant shrug after falling to my death far too many times.
What do you think? Are there any makeup enthusiasts out there? What would you have done for an 8-bit makeup challenge?


Monday, June 18, 2012

One mature game, hold the violence please.

Last week an interview with Warren Spector started making the rounds, and in it he insisted that the gaming community needs to stop being in love with ultra violent games. I agree that the obsession could be reigned in for a lot of reasons, but I have one that is personal and, as I can recall, I've never seen addressed anywhere before.

I want mature, immersive games. I'm interested in well-rounded characters, interesting back stories and gorgeous graphics. At what point in video game culture did maturity come to mean intense, graphic violence?

I mean, I certainly hope not. Original image source.
Developers probably don't realize that they are excluding a portion of their potential audience by creating games that are overshadowed by gratuitous death scenes. I don't understand why I have to be excluded because I don't want the violence, but I want the gameplay.

It took me three years to finally play Fallout 3 because I was completely turned off by the slow-motion replay kill cams, splattering heads, and blood-speckled screens. Fallout 2 was one of my favorite games as a teenager, so I was excited for the release of the third one. My anticipation came crashing down when I played the pre-release demo at PAX that year; the game was simply too graphic for my tastes, and as a result I was initially pushed away from an incredible gaming experience.

fallout headshot vgblogger
This is not what I want. - VGBlogger.
Do developers realize that a group of gamers such as myself exists? Epic Games took a start in the right direction with their 'mature content' filter for Gears of War; one could turn off the language as well as the gory animations that would occur when slashing down an enemy. I wish that Bethesda had included such an option for Fallout 3, because despite all of the violence in the game, there is a truly mature and immersive gaming experience.

I would love to see more developers include a 'gore - off' menu option, because I'm tired of being chased away from so many games! Is anyone out there with me? Who else enjoys their mature games without an emphasis on violence?


Friday, June 15, 2012

Have you joined Club Nintendo yet?

club nintendo prizes
Maybe someday I'll own them all.
Frequently, Japan gets a lot of amazing things that are never sent over to the Americas. Club Nintendo was one of those things until 2007; once announced, gamers around the nation rejoiced at the thought of untold treasures.

Over the past five years I have redeemed many prizes with great joy and affection. My most recent acquisition is a stunningly handsome grey t-shirt adorned with nine 8bit renditions of Mario characters. It cost a whopping 550 coins but, for a free and semi-exclusive t-shirt, I believe it was worth the price!
club nintendo mario t-shirt 550 coins
I counted down the days until my shirt arrived.
Nintendo provides a couple of opportunities to earn coins: first, submitting the serial number included in Nintendo published titles. Second, filling out post-play surveys so that the company can get first-hand feedback. Third, additional coins can be earned if you declare your intentions to buy certain games before they are released.
club nintendo folder reward
If I were still in school, I would have these folder so. hard.
It was these fantastic post-play surveys that pushed me over the edge into 550 coin t-shirt territory! It also, drumroll please...........! Pushed me into Platinum status! This means that sometime in November I'll be getting a super exclusive prize for being a highly dedicated Nintendo fan that is willing to spend (probably) too much money on their games and systems. Worth it!

I have a fair sized collection of other Club Nintendo items, and each of them are high quality and exciting. Nintendo ships extremely quickly, and nothing can quite compare to the joy of seeing a package addressed to *me* from Nintendo of America.

club nintendo hanafuda cardsclub nintendo blooper fan
Hanafuda cards and this Blooper fan are my favorite rewards so far.

Club Nintendo rotates their prizes every so often and each item is more exciting than the last! When the Blooper fan appeared on the site it immediately 'sold' out and I was devastated. Truth be told, I didn't even have enough coins to purchase it. But as soon as I did, it was mine. I keep it on display on my bookshelf! And if I ever travel to the south for a wedding, I will take it with me to keep me cool.

Does anyone have a Club Nintendo account? If so, which prizes have you redeemed so far and which is your favorite? I really want to know!


*all images from the Club Nintendo website

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You want to go to Meltdown Comics.

On Monday night I had the great privilege of attending Harmontown in Hollywood at a comic shop called Meltdown Comics. I'm going to dub this my second real LA experience, you can read all about my first one if you'd like. Can it count as an LA experience if it's in Hollywood? I think it can. I never even know where I am when I'm in the city because of all the different neighborhoods and cross overs. I was on Sunset Boulevard. That probably doesn't help.

But. Yes. Right.
Harmontown Meltdown comics
Bask in the glory of my cellphone picture.
Harmontown is when Dan Harmon goes to this comic shop and does a stand up comedy show for an hour and a half. It happens in this tiny room that gets to be about a billion degrees, and the audience might accidently get spit on if they're sitting in the front row, and as the night goes on Harmon and his buddy will get progressively more drunk off of straight up vodka (like a boss) and tell outrageously awesome stories. They will then hang around afterward and chat with fans.

All in all, it's an awesome event that only costs $10 if you can manage to get a ticket before they sell out.

If you get to attend Harmontown, and you're not sure when you should show up or what to do beforehand, worry not! Meltdown Comics is a huge, varied, entertaining place to spend some time.

meltdown comics
An impressive and colorful storefront. Image from Digital LA.
For one thing, the place is huge, and it's not only comic books; customers will also find action figures, toys, clothing, collectibles, DVDs and role playing books. Meltdown is family owned with a knowledgeable and friendly staff. No one harps upon your entrance to the store, but as soon as you let them know that you have a question or that you want to chat, they are ready to engage.

Their comic book selection is impressive and expansive; Meltdown carries something for literally everyone, from seasoned reader to interested newcomer. Their shelves are lined with not only the classics, the greats, and the popular, but whole sections are dedicated to small publishers and indie titles.

A conversation with the owner's brother revealed that they buy comics directly from creators! You can walk in with your finished work and they'll buy it off you then and there if your work shows real love and dedication. That's pretty awesome.

Huge! And well lit. Nothing weird about this place. Image from Contra Alliance.
Located in the back corner of the shop is table area perfectly suited to cards, tabletop games, or just chatting. There's a customer restroom that needs a book to be unlocked, and the Nerdist podcast is broadcast from an upstairs room! Meltdown Comics also offers special gifts to their Foursquare mayor, so be sure to check in if you visit.

It's wonderful to see a family owned comic shop that is thriving, and it's even better knowing that it has been open since 1993; they obviously managed to flourish and grow in spite of an increase in digital distribution and webcomic popularity.

I hope to attend another Harmontown in the future, or any other cool event at Meltdown, and maybe next time I'll have some money to spend on that awesome Dalek plushie that I saw in the front window.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Garden inspiration - The Gaming World

I came home from my job yesterday and was feeling a little glum. Before hunkering down in bed while watching 'The Office' I decided to check on my garden. I thought a little daylight and plant love would have cheered me up. Turns out, I was right!
tomato plant
I noticed my first tomato growing! Such a joyful moment. I immediately felt cheered up and moved around the garden. What else did I find? A plump strawberry and the starts of two spinach seeds!

spinach sprouts
I'll be like Popeye.
Lastly, I've taken to watering the plants along my deck and surprise! it's lined with red/orange lillies!

cathedral window lily
This bouquet would be so expensive in the store.
All of this got me thinking about spectacular gardeners and the kinds of coordinated gardens and yards that they could compile. Then I wondered what I would do if I possessed those kinds of skills. Can you guess?


I would attempt a video game choreographed garden! My mind immediately set to the logistics, and I found myself completely stumped. Initially trying to plant flowers into gaming shapes, like the giant Mickey Mouse at the entrance to Disneyland, came into my mind, but that would probably be extremely difficult.

Past that thought process I was at a loss. Had anyone attempted a gaming themed garden before? Recreating scenes from games, or making images? A quick (actually not so quick) internet search returned spotty results at best. It would appear that not many people have delved into a video gaming garden!

Except for these few! (so much suspense)

This fellow in the UK created a potted plant garden inspired by a level from Tomb Raider.

While these aren't necessarily plants, this artist makes gaming themed bird houses. So cool! And speaking of lawn decorations, any Plants vs. Zombies fans will appreciate these figurines!

The most comprehensive and impressive result is this post over at Side Questing dot com. The author Dalibor Dimovski compiled a list of video game plants and related them to real-life plants that can be grown and put into a garden.

He, of course, includes mushrooms from Mario, but also smartly added walnuts in leu of Deku Nuts from Legend of Zelda, and herbs from Resident Evil.

The write-up got my brain turning, and here are a few plants that I'd like to add to his list!

Blue Jackets are beautiful, but most likely they don't have some sort of magical property. Maybe you can mash them up with a mortar and pestle and find out if they make you more susceptible to poison? 

While Legends of Mana wasn't the most popular Mana title, it really did have a fun garden system! I'm not aware of any spiky vegetables. Maybe some sort of fruit, but this one most obviously lent itself to the delicious and nutritious carrot!

Roses aren't the easiest flowers to care for, but they're extremely rewarding. If you do try to grow them, watch for those thorns and be sure to keep the aphids in check! They'll chomp your digital beauties down to nubs.

The first time I encountered a Brugmansia I excitedly exclaimed that they looked like Pokemon. I now have one of these plants in my back yard! They're pretty, but they smell weird. Also, they're covering my tomato plants in dead bits. If they didn't look so much like Weepinbells, I'd be pissed.

What do you think about the gaming garden idea? Do you have any favorite gaming plants? Do you have any suggestions you'd like to add? Do you keep a garden?


Friday, June 8, 2012

No flipping the bird (upside down) - Twitter's new design.

You know those days where you're trawling the internet, just cruising around and hoping to find a cool picture of Benedict Cumberbatch in otter form, or hilarious gifs of Alison Brie, and instead you come across an article about a company being incredibly uptight? You know, like how Twitter is being about their logo redesign.

Am I in trouble now?

Every so often people bring up the fact that 'Legos' isn't a word. In fact, 'Lego' should always be capitalized, and it should never have an 's' at the end. 'Lego' is the pluralized form of 'Lego', it just depends on how someone is using it. Now, the Lego company has released statements requesting that people stop using the world 'Legos', but that's not changing anything. I doubt that Twitter will experience much success.

Protecting a brand is important, and so is making sure someone else isn't making money off of your property, so that aspect of Twitter's "do and don't" page makes sense. What about parody though, or comedic use? Or any other non-financial gain representation? An example is the image up above: Twitter doesn't have an image that handles my needs here, so I need to make one for myself.

Of course, I could be missing the point completely and all of this "don't touch our logo" information is referring only to official placement on websites, and in that case.... I regret nothing.


P.s. - these amazing twitter logos have cropped up!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Awesome Nintendo announcements from E3!

E3 is always such a crowded, messy in-take of information. Among the main presentations, companies are also releasing little bits of information in other places online. It's difficult to keep up with everything! Nintendo had a great presentation though, so why don't we focus on that?

I thought it was pretty strong, they hit a lot of important marks! There was plenty of information on the Wii U, as well as exciting new titles for both the in-depth gamer and the casual ones. It's difficult to attempt to keep up with the expectations of the crowds, but they did it. The lack of information about the 3DS would have been more upsetting were they not doing a dedicated presentation tonight at six pm.

Let's look at the 3DS aspect of the presentation.

In the ten minutes given, audiences were shown New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, and more. Nintendo is rolling out the punches to create a stellar line of games, and they are really catering to the needs of 3DS gamers. It's particularly exciting that, after all these years, the Mickey "Illusion" series is getting a re-boot. Even though Epic Mickey for the Wii didn't do particularly well, we can thank its presence for this coming 3DS title!

Two side notes: the 'Sticker Star' subtitle for Paper Mario feels very cheap to me. It provides no real insight as to the game's story (like 'The Thousand Year Door' subtitle did for the Gamecube version), and instead is a call-to-attention of the series's newest feature: collecting and using stickers for battle. It certainly looks interesting, and I'm glad that for the 3DS version the turn-based battle is making a comeback, but only time will tell if the stickers are a gimmick or a beneficial battle system.

A setup well suited to the 3DS. Source.

We were given a few demonstrations of the Wii U's capabilities, including a fairly comprehensive video of the newly redesigned controller. Unfortunately, Nintendo's presentation didn't eliminate all existing doubt; the controller simply seems too bulky. In every demonstration video it seemed that the players had to reach uncomfortably to access the touch screen with their thumbs. This doesn't seem all that different from the way people handle tablet devices, and the issue is that maneuvering tablets can be uncomfortable. How long will it be until hand fatigue sets in during attempted lengthy gaming sessions?

Considering the array of involving, mature rated titles that are slated for Wii U release I can see hand cramping or Wii U gamepad weight becoming an issue. Hopefully these concerns end up non-existent, because it would sure be frustrating to have to stop mid-Assassin's Creed or Batman adventure! Or, worse than that, what if a hand cramp sets in and spasms start in the middle of playing ZombiU? There would be many angry zombified gamers out there.

Wait, wait, do over! I wasn't ready! Source.

Some final thoughts on the presentation: NintendoLand looks like the perfect way to get new Wii U owners comfortable and acquainted with the Wii U's capabilities and controls. Whether or not it will be available on the system at launch remains to be seen. The system's ability to transfer the gaming action to the Wii U gamepad is a great feature, which must mean the screen is pretty stellar, and it's something that I wish had existed on previous consoles. I can't count how many times I've been kicked off a TV so that someone could watch football. Pah.
Oh, and baby Yoshis again? Yes, please! Source.

What's your favorite E3 announcement so far?


Monday, June 4, 2012

Aggression from gaming, or aggression from losing?

Recently I've been playing a lot of Kingdom Rush, and it plucks heavily at my stress/aggression mind strings. I generally don't play tower defense titles because they become exponentially difficult and the repeated attempts to win, causing repeated failures, makes me extremely flustered.

Whenever video games get me angry I can't help but think of the multitude of articles linking aggression to violent games. I get a little curious and confused though, because non-violent games can cause aggression, too.

It's the act of winning that humans crave, and video games involve winning. All games have goals to achieve, finishing lines to cross, and/or enemies to beat. People play games as a hobby, but also to win. We do most things to win; we're a goal oriented species.

So I believe it's the losing, or nearly losing, that causes the stress, anger, and aggression. Therefore, even the most innocuous of games can cause aggression. As an example, let's look at Animal Crossing!

Happy, rainbow, talking animals and flowers. Oh yes. Source.

Animal Crossing is an extremely low key game. There's not really a way to win in the traditional sense, but there are tons of goals. However, there are no time limits for these goals. The entire game goes at the player's chosen speed, and all is well and dandy and full of flowers.

There are tiny, potential wins embedded in the game: if one is trying to catch all of the fish or all of the bugs, and they repeatedly fail to catch a rare bug, then that can cause stress, frustration or even aggression. In trying to catch the rare bug, a goal has been set, and suddenly winning or losing becomes a reality in this otherwise goal-less game. (I love Animal Crossing, I'm not trying to bash it.)

Studies always focus on overtly aggressive games, such as first person shooters. I am positing that these games can cause aggression more often not because they're violent, but because they're heaped with goals and constant opportunities to win and lose.

You encounter a player of the opposing team? It's win or lose time. And you
are always up against the opposite team. Duh. Source.

The greater number of win/lose scenarios, the more opportunities for losing and subsequent stress, frustration or aggression. We are hard wired to set goals and to achieve them; we want to win!

I know the desire to win quite well because of the fact that I lose so often. And I've never been a good loser. This is the main reason that I avoid shooters, racing games and tower defenses. They are riddled with opportunities to lose, and I know that I become stressed, frustrated and want-to-throw-things aggressive when I lose, and lose repeatedly at that.

I prefer to be a happy gamer! I fill my gaming time with Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, Zelda, and Mario. While Zelda and Mario are goal oriented games, they present a gameplay that spaces out the win/lose goals, which makes them more palatable. Open-ended titles such as Skyrim and Fallout also provide enough options that the player can stray away from the goals and do something else in-game if they feel stress or aggression rising in them.

What do you all think? Do you feel that aggression in gaming only comes from violent titles, or do you believe that it is more involved with the frustration/disappointment associated with losing?

More importantly, how do you deal with losing repeatedly at a video game? I hope it's not throwing things! :D


'My Neighbor Totoro' paper sculpt!

Heyo! Here's my finalized 'My Neighbor Totoro' paper sculpt! It took me the better part of three days and I could not be happier with it! I talk about it a bit in my most recent video, and photographic reproductions of it are now available for sale in my Etsy shop!

Paper sculpting is a relatively new interest for me, but I already feel so much happiness and satisfaction from it. I have a new piece in the works that I can't wait to reveal to everyone! In the meantime, enjoy these in-progress and finished photos of my Totoro piece. 

my neighbor totoro

my neighbor totoromy neighbor totoro
my neighbor totoromy neighbor totoro
my neighbor totoromy neighbor totoro
my neighbor totoromy neighbor totoro

my neighbor totoro

my neighbor totoro

my neighbor totoromy neighbor totoro

my neighbor totoro

my neighbor totoro

All the love to Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli for creating such a magical film!


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