Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.
They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!
Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.
My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!
Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!
Monday, June 30, 2014
Friday, June 27, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
On the evening of Saturday, June 14th I left my friend’s house to go home. She stopped me before I got into my car to give me some flowers, “Miranda, wait! A lily for you and your mom.”
I turned back excitedly and took them both from her. Lilies are my favorite flowers, and my mom is a plant and flower buff, and these happened to be huge, gorgeous Tiger Lilies. I set them carefully in my car’s cup holder and went home where I then deposited them into a cup of water, set them on the counter where my mom would see them in the morning, and went to sleep with both my cats snuggled in bed.
Sunday morning dawned bright and with anticipation of family converging on my mom’s house. We woke up lazily around 9:30 and my mom started to make breakfast. I went into the kitchen, noting that the lily cup had been moved from the counter to the windowsill. I thought nothing of it, figuring that whoever was up before me wanted more counter space. I pointed them out to my mom, saying, “Rachel gave these to us!”
At that moment my kitty, Picard, who will be one year old next month, hopped onto the windowsill and sauntered toward the flowers. She took a delicate sniff, then licked quickly at the inner stems, swallowing two pollen buds in one gulp.
I huffed and laughed, commenting on what a bad cat she was, and picked her up to put her on the floor. It was at that moment, which a shock of horror, that a scene from ‘Friends’ drifted into my mind (Season 7, Episode 2 "The One With Rachel's Book" for those that are curious):
Monica: It sucks! No swing band! No lilies!
Phoebe: But that’s good! You don’t want lilies! If a cat ate them, it would die!
I turned to my mom.
“Aren’t lilies toxic to cats? Phoebe says so on ‘Friends’ but I don’t know if she’s joking or not!”
My mom looked troubled, a small furrow appearing in her brow as she thought.
“I really don’t know.”
It was time to take action, so I first consulted my phone. A quick google search returned a long, long list of websites that screamed about the dangers of lilies to cats. I scanned the websites reading about symptoms showing within 6-12 hours, renal failure within 2-3 days, and immediate vet care being necessary.
With a thick throat I called the emergency vet, hoping that the Internet at large was overreacting and underinformed (hey, it happens). When I finally had a technician on the phone though she explained to me that two pollen buds was a fatal dosage. Tears immediately filled my eyes. I nodded, unseen to her, as she spoke of the severity and how I needed to get to their office right away.
The next few minutes was a flurry of clothing (I being in pajamas at the time), enticing wafts of bacon, my mom on the phone telling my Grandma that someone else would be picking her up from the ferry in half an hour instead of me, and a scramble for the cat carrier. During this chaos my mom’s boyfriend overheard the commotion and struck me with further dread.
“One of the flowers was on the ground when I got up this morning,” he told me, “It had chew marks on it and I just put it back.”
At this point we grabbed my second cat, Data, and put him in his carrier too. We had no proof, aside from his unwavering love of plants and obsession for dragging things around, and I really wasn’t interested in taking chances. The only thing that kept me from falling into a pit of pure hysteria was the fact that the flowers had been in the house less than 12 hours and Data was still acting normally.
My boyfriend and I had a tense drive to the emergency vet, both cats in tow and Data yowling the whole way. Upon our arrival we gave our furry babies lots of hugs and kisses before they were whisked away for immediate blood work, vomit inducing medication, and intravenous fluids to hopefully flush their systems before their kidneys could absorb the toxins.
Fortunately, amazingly, magnificently, both of the cats are fine. They stayed at the emergency vet until Tuesday morning when they were both deemed OK to go home. Each of their blood tests showed either no anomolies (for Picard) or a teeny bit elevated calcium level for Data which has been looked into. I asked the vet why that was: I honestly expected to be told about crazy levels and dangerous brushes with death, especially since I watched Picard eat two pollen buds. The vet’s best explanation was that we got them to the vet so quickly and as a result they were able to flush their systems before any damage could take place.
So thank you to ‘Friends’, the show creators, runners, and writers. Thank you for Phoebe’s wacky character and being concerned that cats wouldn’t be able to attend Monica’s wedding. Thank you for bringing a show into the world that is so consuming that daily, run-of-the-mill words become trigger words to remember a scene or a line.
Thank you for saving my cats’ lives!
Remember that lilies are toxic to cats! Many plants and flowers are, so be sure to consult guides or your veterinarian to find out which ones are safe to bring into a cat filled home.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Fan films can also be good and bad but when they're good, ohhh man are they good. This is usually the result of the filmmakers being fans themselves and understanding the feel of the source material. Other times, it's a stellar budget that allows for near authentic production value. In either case, the result is fantastic.
So we here at A Bit of Geek have compiled a list of some great fan films, in no particular order of importance, for your enjoyment. Behold!
1. "Fight the Foot"
As far as this list goes, this fan film is the shortest, coming in at just over three minutes. But damn if they don't manage to tell a great story in that time. The film is set in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe, following April O'Neil in her investigation of the ninja gang, the Foot. And when some Foot thugs come to silence her, we get to see some killer turtle action by the R-man himself. Take note, Michael Bay, because this is a fan film and even their ninja turtle looks better than yours.
2. "Half-Life: Escape from City 17"
This short Canadian film, done by the Purchase Brothers, is set in the video game universe of Half-Life 2, just after the announcement that City 17 is going to explode within a matter of hours. The film follows the escape of several resistance members as they fight their way through Combine and Headcrab Zombies. Very well done.
3. "Fallout: Nuka Break"
This Fallout fan film focuses on the story of "Vault dweller, his ghoul companion, and a slave they free from New Vegas." It was so popular in its release in 2011 that it received funding for it's own web miniseries and follow-up movie. If you're a fan of the Fallout series, this is definitely something you should check out.
4. "Megaman X"
This one is a personal preference because, frankly, Megaman X is awesome. But even as it's picked for its subject matter, that doesn't diminish its quality. The short film follows a programmed simulation that Dr. Light installed into X during the time before he was awoken by Dr. Cain. The simulation has X fighting a copy of Protoman to determine the morality of X. Brilliant, I say.
5. "Portal: No Escape"
This Portal fan film is spectacular because it does something not found in abundance in the Portal games: adds drama. The film is a serious interpretation on the imprisonment of Chell as she's forced by Apeture Science to conduct testing. It's great because it doesn't necessarily feel like an alternate take as it could very well be what goes through Chell's head in between the cake jokes. This film is one of my personal faves.
6. "The Punisher: Dirty Laundry"
I cannot properly express to you how amazing this fan film is. Thomas Jane, who played the Punisher in the self-titled 2004 film, played Frank Castle with such finesse and raw brutality that he is without a doubt, my favorite incarnation of the Punisher. But then Dirty Laundry comes around. A fan produced, fan made Punisher film that stars Thomas Jane himself?! Pure gold. Not only this, but another big name actor signed on for this short film. I won't say who it is; you'll just have to watch the film yourself and thank yourself afterward.
7. "Airsoft GI- Left 4 Dead"
Okay, remember before when I said that this list was in no particular order of importance? Well, I lied. Right to your face, I lied. Because this fan film, out of all the ones we've listed, is the best.
It follows the world of Valve's zombie-masterpiece, Left 4 Dead. But not only is it a fantastic Left 4 Dead fan film, it's also something else. It has a turning point in the film that will honestly surprise you. I won't say more; just please, watch it. It's.....the best.
That's all we have so far! But if you've got some fan films that you enjoy, feel free to comment and tell us! Or let us know what you thought of the ones we showed you!
Oh, and an honorable mention to Bat in the Sun, who does awesome fan video showdowns. Definitely worth checking out.
Banner Source, Source, Source.
Friday, June 20, 2014
-Rachel and MJ
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
What is card altering?
Altering cards is a process by which artists take existing physical cards (Magic, Pokemon, Yugioh) and create different versions of art on them. If you look around the web, you’ll find some amazing examples of extended artwork and borderless altered cards.
Altering cards has been a hobby of mine for some time, so I wanted to share a simple method I used to create these fun Adventure Time-themed Magic tokens. Feel free to try card altering yourself, and if you do I'd love to see the results. Post them in the comments! Now, onto the tutorial...
What do you need?
There isn’t one specific right or wrong way to alter cards and I encourage you to experiment with different mediums and styles. That being said, here is a list of the art supplies I generally start altering projects with:
• The cards you wish to alter
• Paintbrushes – you’ll want to work with smaller sizes to get details. I use two Princeton Art Brush Co. Round, sizes 1 and 3/0. You can use smaller or larger ones, it’s up to your personal preference.
• Acrylic paints – I use the Blick Studio Acrylic paint set of 24 tubes.
• A small dish or palate for mixing paints
• A small bowl of water for washing brushes
• Paper towel for drying brushes
• Fine tip pen or marker for line work
• Newspaper/scrap paper to protect your work area
• ** Optional: Masking tape for blocking off portions of art you’d like to keep. I use ¼” wide tape.
• ** Optional: Toothpicks for corrections
Lastly, you should have an idea of how you want to alter the cards. For this project I’ve chosen a Human and Wolf token, which I plan to alter into Finn (the human) and Jake (the dog) from Adventure Time. I used this photo for inspiration:
1. Apply gesso to your artwork area.
Gesso is a primer for paint. Because cards already have a somewhat glossy finish on them, I like applying gesso to give my paint a good base and to lighten up and smooth the background colors. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I apply a few coats until I’m satisfied, then wait for it to dry.
2. Use a pencil to lightly sketch an outline of your art.
3. Start painting!
I find it’s easier to start with the lighter colors, and then fill in the darker ones last.
4. Add outlines and details.
I used a thin-tipped marker for making black outlines. Something like a fine point Sharpie pen would work as well.
Step 5. Paint the background.
Step 6. Add outlines and details to the background, then touch it up!
And that's about it! Using this method, I created a set of Adventure Time character tokens and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out.
Til next time,
Monday, June 16, 2014
Friday, June 13, 2014
I had never attended a book release party and wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Outlander first released on June 1st, 1991, and each book following has been a huge success. With the hysteria surrounding the release of Written in My Own Heart's Blood (here on out referred to as MOBY) reaching a fever pitch after a few unexpected setbacks, and the highly anticipated announcement of the Starz show release date, Random House and Starz decided to team up and do something special for the fans.
Attendees were promised an appearance by Diana Gabaldon herself, accompanied by a signing session and opportunity to have your photo taken with her, an early release copy of MOBY (the book released officially on June 10th), a goodie bag, cocktail mixer with light snacks, and a handful of unannounced surprises. Simply getting the book and a chance to meet one of my favorite authors was enough of a draw for me.
We arrived bright and early at 9 am for registration. We were given Random House emblazoned tote bags, time slots to have our books autographed, hard back copies of MOBY, name tags, 'Outlander Retreat' drinking tumblers, posters, short bread (naturally), and morning snacks. There was a craft table setup so that attendees could make themselves permanent flower arrangements, or flower crowns (which is the route that my sister and I took).
A local book shop had made a pop-up store that contained additional copies of MOBY available for purchase as well as the entire backlog of Outlander books. They even had the specially bound 20th anniversary edition of Outlander and the Outlandish Companion reference book. Since Herself (a fan favorite name for Diana Gabaldon) is an avid reader and loves to make suggestions to others, there was also a small selection of her current favorite books for sale.
I picked up a 20th anniversary edition copy for myself and proceeded to carry two VERY hefty books for the rest of the day. Worth it!
The day truly kicked off with Gabaldon's amazing key note speech wherein she regaled the audience with the tale of how she began to write Outlander. She is a highly entertaining speaker and it was an absolute delight to listen to her in person. She has such personality, such unique flavor to her words! Anyone who's read something of hers could tell you that, though. Fun fact: while casting around for a setting for her novel (which was originally intended to be for fun only) she happened to see an older Doctor Who episode with the young Scottish companion Jamie. This is where the 18th century Scotland setting comes from, as does the name of the male lead in Outlander. I guess we have Doctor Who to thank for so very many things!
After the morning's key note, Random House had organized a few other events. A local improv group performed a retelling of Claire and Jamie's story (the two main characters in Outlander), and there was a presentation of traditional Scottish dancing. My mom, sister, and I took this opportunity to snap a few fun photos in front of the giant promo picture and then go find some food.
While my sister and I were taking goofy photos we caught the attention of a representative from Starz who asked if she could take a photo of us for the Outlander Starz Facebook page. We gave a resounding, "Hell yes!!"
[**DISCLAIMER** Legitimately NO disrespect to the character Claire or, more importantly, to Caitriona Balfe, the actress playing her. This is Claire's story, and Caitriona Balfe is looking so far to do an incredible job of portraying her. We were just being silly and we are jealous that she gets Jamie all to herself ;)]
When we returned in the afternoon we waited excitedly for our turn to have our books signed by Herself. There were roughy 500 lucky attendees and the line had been moving steadily all day. Unfortunately, since there were so many people, each guest only had a brief moment to say hello, get a picture (and cross all your fingers and toes that you weren't blinking), then have their book quickly personalized before being shuffled, stumbling and dazed, away from the table.
When tickets initially went on sale I remember thinking to myself, "Only 500 tickets? That's nothing!" but since experiencing the event I am now of the opinion that this sort of event should have had even fewer people. Random House and Starz put on something spectacular and special for fans, but people and buildings have their limitations, and I think everyone and everything was stretched incredibly thin. Really, don't take this as an insult to anyone or any company involved: they were brilliant.
There were decorations, activities, places to sit, phone chargers everywhere, food, drink, entertainment, souvenirs, and the most gorgeous buffet line feast ever. I just wish, naturally, I could have had a few more seconds to give a bigger "Thank You," to the author. Alas, maybe some other day!
Thank you to Starz, Random House, and especially Diana Gabaldon herself for putting on such a wonderful event for the fans. It was a great day for my mom, sister, and me! I am working on a second read-through of the series so I can't even start MOBY just yet, but I am excited! And don't even get me started on my anticipation for the show because it is off. the. charts. In conclusion, I would totally go to another Random House organized book event. It was awesome!
Any other Outlander fans out there who are pumped for MOBY and the Starz show?
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
At the risk of over-saturating ABoG with anime-related articles, I've decided to take a break from video game commentary and, instead, list a couple of my favorite anime intros. Check 'em!
Limiting myself to five is hard, man. I guess I have Toonami to blame for giving me a good chunk of material to work with. There are so many intros I have enjoyed over the years, it's hard to narrow it down. I thought at least I could extend it a bit by listing a couple that didn't make the theoretical cut.
Full Metal Alchemist
Sword Art Online
THE MAIN EVENT!
Alright, now we can move forward into the meat of the meal, the best of the best...
This show answers the question on every mind everywhere: "What if Batman had a gundam?" Simplicity prevails here with black silhouettes overlaying psychedelic splashes of color and one-word introductions for the main characters. Not to mention the phrase "Big-O" being the only lyric. Also, the obvious inspiration from Queen's "Flash" is a bonus.
4: Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is an action-packed montage about humanity's seemingly hopeless fight against giant beings whose only purpose appears to be eating humans (what a mouthful (no pun intended (sort of))). The tone of the music, along with the (roughly translated) lyric "Are you the prey? No, we are the hunter!" give you a great first look into what dire straits humanity is in, and at the same time, the relentless survival instinct of human nature.
3: Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne
Rin is a series that I looked into on a whim, and I'm so glad I did. It follows the life (or lives) of Rin, an immortal private detective. The show is very gritty and gets incredibly supernatural. Definitely a lot of adult-oriented content and blood, though, so keep that in mind. Also, I'd have to say this intro is probably NSFW material. The lyrics are sung in English by obviously native-Japanese speakers. While they are spoken brilliantly, they do take some deciphering, which I find a bit fun. Hot damn, I love me some power metal.
2: Cowboy Bebop
The jazzy rock tune "Tank!" performed by the Japanese band Seatbelts accompanies this story of a group of space bounty hunters. Jazz is always an excellent tool to convey badassery, and there is no shortage of it in Cowboy Bebop. The imagery presented evokes memories of film noir, and there is no more fitting a scene for Spike Spiegel and the gang. Take a listen, space cowboy.
The Ballad of Vash the Stampede is my absolute favorite anime, so it makes perfect sense that "Humanoid Typhoon" rests in the number one slot. The story of Trigun revolves around Vash, a man with a sixty-billion double dollar bounty on his head. You would think that, because of this bounty, he's probably a terrible person. As it turns out, the death and destruction that is attributed to him is the fault of others. For a guy who tries to avoid trouble at all costs, he can't seem to stay out of it. The intro sequence is a whirlwind of activity, changing slightly for every episode and revealing relevant bits. It also shows a fair amount of Vash and what kind of person he is. All he wants is donuts, and to not get shot (pretty relatable for Rachel and Miranda), but he will also do what he needs to in order to survive. Oh, and of course the music gets you PUMPED UP, BRO, SO SWOLE. (Rachel even knows it's my favorite, so she's got it as her ringtone when I call her.)
I highly recommend that you take a look at each of these shows if you haven't already. They're all good in their own way, and each is different from the next, but they are all a blast to watch.
So for everyone reading everywhere, what is your favorite intro? How about your least favorite? What anime did you love or hate, or what is one that I should look into and why? Let's talk about it sometime! We'll do lunch.
Header image courtesy of Wallpaper Panda and Clip Art Best. Preview image courtesy of, well, the internet.
Monday, June 9, 2014
THE VIDEO GAME GLAD GAME
It's simple to do and it could even up lift your spirits. Here's how you play: whenever you get frustrated by a game or sad that you can't progress, you just take a second to think of all the moments in video gaming that make you feel happy. Any specific feeling or euphoric moment in a game that left a positive mark on your brain.Everyone's list is different, catered specifically to your video gaming career. So to get you started on your own Video Game Glad Game, I present you my personal list of feel-good-video-game moments:
Reaching the highest point on the end-level flag in Super Mario Bros.
Grabbing an air bubble just before you're about to drown in Sonic the Hedgehog.
Doing a swan dive from a great height in the Tomb Raider series.
Hitting the exact buttons to use the Hadouken in Megaman X.
Beating the Penguin in the ice race of Super Mario 64.
Taking down every enemy in an area in the Batman: Arkham series without being spotted once.
Chainsawing an enemy in Gears of War.
Becoming Pokemon League Champion in Pokemon Red/Blue.
Using the supercharged Gravity Gun in Half-Life 2.
Beating Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts.
Looking up at the skies in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Those are my glad moments in video gaming, ABOGers! They keep me going through all the rage quits and corrupt save files. What are some of yours? Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook page.