GeekMom http://geekmom.com Smart. Savvy. Social. Fri, 19 Dec 2014 01:39:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Open Letter: Sony, You Can and Should Do Better http://geekmom.com/2014/12/sony-do-better/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/sony-do-better/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 21:20:44 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=157819 An open letter to Sony regarding its decision to cancel the release of The Interview.

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Cropped image of <em>The Interview</em> movie poster. Image by Sony Pictures

Cropped image of “The Interview” movie poster. Image by Sony Pictures

Dear Sony,

I’m really not a fan right now. In fact, I’m really disappointed with your recent decision to completely stuff The Interview into a drawer.

I can no longer support a company that completely cancels a movie’s release because of threats and hackers.

I have many reasons. One of these reasons is: If the various places for which I do contract work let me go because they’ve been attacked for hiring me, I’d have much less work. Instead, these places—one of which includes this website–have increased support and circled their wagons around me.

And now, only hours after the announcement was made that you are pulling The Interview from both theaters and video-on-demand release, there are many reputable sources who are pulling apart the claims that North Korea is behind all of this hullaballoo.

To quote Vice President Biden, “What a bunch of stuff.”

Individual GeekMom writers are split on how they feel and what they think about your decision, Sony. Some understand this decision because they worry that some lone wolf, not from North Korea, would use this heightened sense of danger as an opportunity to pull another Newtown massacre. While others think threats, like the Newtown massacre, were already present and almost anything could set a lone wolf off. Individual GeekMom writers are also split on whether or not they believe it was North Korea, and believe unnamed sources in the CIA quoted in the media may not be trustworthy.

However, it is the opinion of this writer that we cannot give into threats. And big companies, like you, Sony, have huge resources that can pay for the best internet security and firewalls, and can properly rally around those who have signed contracts with you. Instead, we get—to paraphrase: we [Sony] are all about free speech and freedom of expression for our writers and directors, but we have chosen to stifle what we believe.

This sets a very bad precedent, and opens the door to bigger threats and more entertainment companies pulling out of existing contracts because they think the subject matter is too risqué.

Over the last few years, several Canadian government buildings have been the subject of terrorist attacks, including a lone wolf gunning down a guard at our federal Parliament building, and a thwarted Canada Day bombing a la Boston Marathon, on the B.C. Legislature building. Instead of giving in to the terror, we chose not to give in and continue our lives as normal. Obviously, this colors my opinion.

And if GeekMom as an entity, who has little resources compared to you, Sony, can rally around me when I’m doxed, and are willing to endure horrible attacks because I write for them, then, Sony, it is my unapologetic opinion that you and other big corporations can—and must—do better.

To completely pull out of any type of release of The Interview is… gobsmacking. There are more options than video-on-demand from which to choose. Why not release it on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and many more online release options? Do you not understand how much revenue that would bring in?

Sony, you’ve let the supposed terrorists* win. I can see a future where no films that challenge certain ways of thinking will be made in Hollywood. You’ve basically said, “Sure, we believe in free speech and all that jazz, but we are completely opened to selling out to the highest bidder.”

If you can swallow the cost of producing The Interview, then you can definitely swallow the cost of setting up better internet security.  Sticking your middle finger up to other corporations and not just supposed terrorists by releasing the movie by other means instead of letting them  stifle your freedom of expression—something you claim to be all for—will benefit you and  take away profits from those other corporations’ that refuse to show the movie.

As one GeekMom said, “If [Sony] decided to make the movie, they have no need to cancel it. Of course, North Korea was going to be pissed off. Of course “something” was going to happen. With the [North Korean  leaders’s] ego, they weren’t going to sit idly by. But if [Sony] decided to make it, [Sony] already decided.”

In short: Sony, you made your bed, now lay in it. Don’t punish audiences and Seth Rogen because you’ve decided to create a complicated bed.

Sony, you can and should do better! You’ve lost me, and many others, as a customer.

Signed with much disappointment and sadness, but without regret,

Jules Sherred

*It is my personal opinion that these supposed terrorists are home-grown hackers who finds it quite entertaining when groups within a country becomes frenzied over any supposed threat.

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A Thermal Camera for Your Mobile Devices http://geekmom.com/2014/12/seek-thermal/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/seek-thermal/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:22:52 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=157550 The new Seek thermal camera attaches to your smartphone and reveals an array of practical uses.

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See heat in the dark with the Seek thermal camera for smartphones. Image credit: Seek Thermal.

See heat in the dark with the Seek thermal camera for smartphones. Image credit: Seek Thermal.

Thermal cameras are, by and large, prohibitively expensive for the average Joe. However, there is a new product which caters to the mostly untapped consumer market. Here’s the Seek thermal camera, an add-on for your smartphone.

Seek thermal camera. Image credit:

Seek thermal camera. Image credit:

The uses for a thermal camera attachment on your smartphone are amazingly varied:

  • Finding your pet in the yard after sunset: I have a neighbor who stands outside tapping on a can of food with a fork for 20 minutes every evening, trying to call his cat inside for the night. I bet he could use a thermal camera. I bet I could use him using a thermal camera.
  • Scanning a dark, empty parking lot or park for perps: If you find yourself walking through an empty public space in the dark on a regular basis, as I often did walking through campus at 3 am during grad school, a thermal camera—and a can of Mace—could bring you some peace of mind.
  • Scanning your yard for animals before taking out the trash: For those of you who keep posting bear videos on Facebook. Don’t let them surprise you!
  • Find drafts and leaks in your home: Comes in handy for slew of home improvement projects.
  • Scanning your kids while they sleep: I always wondered if my little ones are too hot or too cold at night. Am I underdressing them? Overdressing them? Are their feet too cold? Will they wake up if I try to feel them? (The answer to the latter is always yes.) While surface temperature is not true body temperature and a thermal camera will never replace a thermometer, having a thermal camera is a little bit like gaining a mom superpower.
  • Find boats or people overboard at night: If you’re a boat person.
  • Night tag: Okay, so perhaps this application alone doesn’t validate the price tag, but let’s call it a perk!

The Seek thermal camera uses a 12 micron sensor and produces a 32,136 pixel image that is 206 pixels by 156 pixels. Each pixel represents a temperature measurement—anything from -40 to 330 degrees Celsius can be accurately measured to a fraction of a degree, according to their specs—and the color scheme of the image is customizable in the app.

The app offers a gamut of settings and tools, but there is also a development kit available for programmers so you can hope for more apps using Seek in the future. Those apps could offer specialized tools for certain uses, or I can imagine really cool games that could make use of this 6th sense.

The hardest part about using this gadget is actually having it with you when you need it. It’s not likely you’d keep it on your phone all the time, so how do you keep it on your person in case you find yourself in a dark parking lot? The camera comes with a hardy plastic case that’s perfect for throwing into a purse or bag. The case also has a metal ring, presumably to add to a keychain like I tried, but the whole thing ended up making my key set way too bulky for my need. If you know you’ll only use it for a single purpose, like checking the yard for wild animals before letting your dog out at night, you could also give the camera a permanent home near the door. You’ll definitely want to decide where you’ll be storing it, though, or else suffer the consequences: Where is that darn camera? Yes, I have already lost it multiple times.

Another inconvenience that I experienced was that the camera didn’t fit with my phone case. So every time I wanted to use the camera, I had to take my case off and put it back on again after. My husband didn’t have this problem; the Seek fit on his iPhone 6 Plus with the Apple silicon case. Mine was an iPhone 5 with a Speck wallet case.

Minor inconveniences aside, the Seek can be a great toy for the gadget lovers or a very practical tool if you have a need for it. You can always find additional uses for it once you have it, but it’s much easier to validate the purchase if it solves a frequent problem in your life too.

Seek is available for Android and iPhone and retails at $199.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

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Holidays at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida – My Top Reasons to Visit http://geekmom.com/2014/12/holidays-at-seaworld-orlando/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/holidays-at-seaworld-orlando/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=157464 Dakster heads to SeaWorld to see how Shamu and his friends celebrate the holidays in Orlando, Florida.

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Holidays at Seaworld \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Holidays at SeaWorld \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

The holidays are my favorite time of year to visit the theme parks. Each park has its own unique way of celebrating with shows, food, and attractions that make it special. SeaWorld takes their animal expertise and uses it to showcase the holidays in a way that only they can. Shamu Stadium shines with the holiday themed show. O Wondrous Night features animals that you don’t usually see in the park, and the decorations from the lamp posts to the recycled statues make it a must-see in Orlando.

Shamu’s Holiday Show – Shamu’s holiday show only runs once a night and it’s a must-see. The pre-show jazz and karaoke sing-a-long kept me and my son entertained before our favorite mammals took to the “stage.” The show itself fits right in with the holiday spirit with a very sweet portion dedicated to the love between a mother and child. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the soundtrack for Prince of Egypt was the music for the show. My favorite parts were when the mother and child were side-by-side. Since the accident with Dawn Brancheau, new regulations do not allow the trainers in the water with the animals. This is a huge bummer for both the trainers and the guests because the whales enjoy the interactions they get with their human companions and guests no longer get to see the special bond between trainer and killer whale.

Just before the show, we were checking out the underwater viewing area at Shamu Stadium, and an educator gave us some insight into the animals, including that the female killer whales are the dominant sex in the family. You could also see the floors of the viewing area were a bit different and I explained to my son that it allows them to lift the whales up for health checks and such. The educator overheard me and said that while that is correct, they use a different pool for that because it makes the mother and calf feel more comfortable. The underwater viewing area has always been one of my favorite places in the park, and I can’t wait to see it again when the massive expansion is completed.

O Wondrous NightO Wondrous Night is in the Nautilus theater and is so popular it fills up quickly. My son and I barely got in to see the 5:00 PM show the day we were there—we weren’t disappointed, so we are glad we made it in. It’s filled with upbeat Christmas music, sung by the Herald Angels, and the story is told by a cast of lively animal puppets. The grand finale includes a host of live animals including four camels, goats, sheep, doves, a young burro, and many more. To get a really good look at the animals, try to get a spot on the aisle to the left or the right of the stage near the side doors.

O Wondrous  Night \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

O Wondrous Night \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Polar Express – The Wild Arctic is redecorated to resemble the feel of the Polar Express movie. From the pre-show area resembling the house of the “hero boy” and the simulator itself being redecorated, you really feel like you are walking on the Polar Express. My favorite part of entering this area was walking off the Polar Express, and after a few rooms of presents and trees, seeing a Christmas tree and Santa’s sleigh, both of which look like they came straight from the film. My favorite part of the entire attraction was the interaction we had with Santa’s elves. They took their time with each of the guests who were next in line to see Santa and managed to get my son to come out of his shell. They talked Minecraft, Star Wars, and asked him about all of the things he liked to do. They stayed in character very well. I could have hung out with them all day.

Feels like we walked right into the movie! \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Feels like we walked right into the movie! \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

I was disappointed to see that the Polar Bears, Johnny and Klondike, were not there and have since gone to that big snow castle in the sky. They were my favorite part of the attraction and were residents of SeaWorld for a very long time. In their place, SeaWorld has given the area to a few harbor seals for the time being.

Empire of the PenguinThe Penguin Encounter has always been my favorite attraction in the park, because penguins are one of my favorite animals. Thankfully, the environment underwent a much-needed massive renovation and is finally an attraction worthy of the flightless birds it cares for. Built around the theming of their Antarctic home, your journey begins after watching the birth of Puck, a baby penguin who is learning his way in the world. For the adventurous, the Wild Expedition will be a cool experience. Those who prefer a little less action in their visit should take the calmer expedition.

The ride takes you through Puck’s life and the dangers he faces in the arctic including having to escape his predators. Geeks will be interested to know that this ride runs off of a wireless network with GPS to help the ride know who is where and where they need to go.

When you exit the ride, things will be a bit nippy because you will be in the penguin environment with nothing more than a four-foot piece of glass between you and them. While in the exhibit I learned that SeaWorld plays host to over 250 penguins and to make sure they’re comfortable, they keep the lighting and temperature similar to what you would experience in their home of Antarctica.

Holiday village and bonfire – Spend a chilly Florida evening (and by chilly I mean a crisp 40 to 60 degrees) with some holiday music, food, and a fire to keep you warm. The reindeer band was hopping when we were there and the fire was a welcome relief from the cold wind that was blowing that night. The village gives you a great view of the Sea of Trees which features over 114 trees and over 39,250 feet of garland. The trees dance to music nightly and by the time the holidays are over, will have done over 150 performances for guests.

Sea of Trees \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Sea of Trees \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Other fun things to do in the holiday village include festive musical performances, hot chocolate, shopping carts, and decorations galore to catch your eye. I don’t normally purchase souvenir cups, but the one the hot cocoa came in was really cute, so I splurged a few extra dollars on it.

On our way out of the park, my husband ducked into Manta for one last ride and my son and I checked out the hidden treasure that is the aquarium under the ride. There is one part of the aquarium where you are surrounded by glass walls and when you look up, you can see the sea life swimming over you. My son loved this part of the area and stayed there for a little bit just to enjoy the view. There’s another area of the aquarium where you can step into the fish world and have an “inside aquarium view.”  It’s the perfect size for the younger guests, but adults can squeeze in as well without too much discomfort.

I found Nemo! \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

I found Nemo! \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

As we walked back to the car that night, I took a moment to reflect on the day: We saw killer whales have a lovely interaction with their human friends; learned that all of the animals currently at SeaWorld were born in the park; fed a sea-lion ($5 for a really nice size amount of fish), and listened to their conversations with each other; and we saw the Penguins in their new and amazing environment, complete with freezing temperatures for us to experience. Overall, I’d say it was a fun day of learning and exploring and worth repeating in the future.

Click to view slideshow.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received tickets into this attraction.

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SuperHeroStuff.com Hero Boxes! http://geekmom.com/2014/12/superherostuff-com-hero-boxes/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/superherostuff-com-hero-boxes/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:00:28 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=157529 Starting at $39, SuperHeroStuff.com might have the most expensive mystery boxes for geeks, but you get quality products that you won't want to throw away.

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Image courtesy of SuperHerosStuff.com

Image courtesy of SuperHerosStuff.com

Starting at $39, SuperHeroStuff.com might have the most expensive mystery boxes for geeks, but you get quality products that you won’t want to throw away.

The boxes come in three different themes, DC Comics, Marvel, or Star Wars. The main difference between the boxes is the total worth of what is inside. A sidekick box costs $39 and you are promised over $60 worth of merchandise. The hero box promises you at least $70 in merchandise for $49. When ordering your box, you can request a men’s, women’s, or kid’s sized shirt for the Hero box. Certain times of the year kid themed boxes are available, but it’s not an ongoing thing.

To see what these mystery boxes were all about, I checked out a DC Sidekick box and a Marvel Hero Box.

Both boxes included a bumper sticker, paper craft, key chain, and a comic book. 

Sidekick Box

Sidekick Box breakdown
Batman Mug – $9.99 (estimated based on a Google search)
Batman plush – $6.99
Bumper sticker – $2.99
Comic book – $3.99
Key chain – $7.99
Batman face can and bottle cooler – $8.99
Mystery gift card – $7.00 (could be worth up to $75)
Bottle Opener – $3.99
Symbol Pin – $1.75
Total = $53

This wasn’t my favorite box of the two, but I still loved everything that it came with and gave it a home within my office at work. My 9-year old son ran off with “baby Batman” as he calls him and has been attached to him ever since.

Hero Box \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Hero Box \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Hero Box breakdown
Captain America t-shirt – $23.99
Earrings – $9.99
Large Tote bag – $6.99
Comic book – $3.99
Bumper sticker – $2.99
Key chain – $8.99
Athletic socks (2 pair pack) – $14.99
Travel mug – $10.99 (estimated based on a Google search)
Magnet – $4.99
Symbol Pin – $1.75
Surprise gift card – $7.00
Total = $96

I love how they included feminine items since I requested a women’s shirt. The socks are super comfy and I wouldn’t mind getting a few more pairs in the future. I already had that same Captain America shirt, but welcomed it anyways since my current one was running a little small.

The only thing I’d change about these boxes is the packaging of the comics. It was a rainy Florida day when my box arrived and the bottom of the box was a bit soggy, which leaked into the box and onto my comic book. It’s still readable, but not in a condition that I would be able to trade it later on if I choose to do so.

Compared to other services I’ve reviewed, this was by far the most expensive, but also the most worth the expense. You know that you will be getting high quality merchandise and not cheap promo items thrown together. With three themes to choose from, you also stand a better chance of winding up with items you will enjoy. I plan on keeping my eyes peeled for more Hero and Sidekick boxes in the future. It’s a bummer that they’re not available by subscription, but maybe their popularity will catch on and SuperHeroStuff will offer it down the road. The next box offering will be in January 2015!

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a few sample.

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Pirate vs. Ninja Christmas http://geekmom.com/2014/12/pirate-vs-ninja-christmas/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/pirate-vs-ninja-christmas/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:00:24 +0000 http://blog-admin.wired.com/geekmom/?p=99516 My son is a ninja fan, and I am most certainly Pro-Pirate. How does this play out at Christmas?

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Slide1

Image By Rebecca Angel

In my house, there is a year-long… shall we say, “disagreement” between my son and I. He is a ninja fan, and I am most certainly pro-pirate. Both of us share a love of Christmas, so naturally our inclinations come into our decorating and festivities. Or maybe not “naturally”–but mashing two unrelated things together does make us giggle.

Now obviously pirates would be more fun at Christmas time than ninjas. Carousing! Singing! Hot Buttered Rum!

Pirate Christmas – by Captain Dan & the Scurvy Crew

But Santa is most certainly a ninja as “Ask A Ninja” explains. Probably one of the best lines about Santa’s suit I have ever heard: “The red comes from the blood of children who have woken up in the middle of the night…”

What about decorations and gifts? This pirate stocking really puts me in the spirit:
il_570xN.697188577_shbl

But then I came upon these Ninjabreadmen cookie cutters.
il_570xN.522484869_h1a0

What about entertainment? I found a Facebook page for a ninja Christmas show, but no real details on it. Yet there is a published children’s musical called “A Pirate Christmas“. Obviously, pirates win on that one.

What do you think? Pirate Christmas? Ninja Christmas? Or, why do people try to ruin a perfectly peaceful holiday with karate and rum?

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Comic Book Corner — The X-Files, HQ, Wonder Woman and Batgirl http://geekmom.com/2014/12/comic-book-corner-12-17-2014-2/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/comic-book-corner-12-17-2014-2/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:49:11 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=157059 This week, we have The X-Files, Harley Quinn, and Batgirl and a link to a Wonder Woman panel you won't believe.

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STK6585271

Image: Copyright DC Comics.

Happy comic release day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week, Lisa and Corrina check out how Harley Quinn spends her holidays, while Sophie picks back up with The X-Files #19, and Corrina also walks us through Batgirl #37.

But first, a panel so egregious, only the image can do it justice. WARNING: SPOILER for Wonder Woman #37.

A favorite Teen Titan returns in Wonder Woman #37. You won’t be glad to see her, especially given this panel. When Corrina posted the image on Tumblr, she was sent a message calling her narcissistic, prudish, and a cheesecake hater. Insults, no worries, but she’s tired of women calling out objectified poses being classified as “prudish,” so she responded on that matter. (Warning: NSFW for foul language.)

Onto the reviews!

Lisa Tate — Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1  by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner

This three-story collection of holiday mayhem and madness by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner is a crazy Christmas package only Harley can deliver. Part of the New 52 series, the issue’s two Christmas tales and one New Year’s story aren’t the most thoughtful and well-crafted yarns in this month’s DC offerings. However, they really aren’t meant to be. The first story is my favorite, as it lets Harley’s well-hidden humanity show just a little bit, as she attempts to find homes for amassed pets and ends up as a “toy” for a spoiled kid.

The most impressive art is from the third story, “Killin’ Time,” in which Harley seeks out Father Time to confront him about a new-found grey hair. It features beautiful illustrations by Darwyn Cooke. Mauricet and Brandt Peters contribute art to the first and second story, respectively.

It’s a fun one-shot, for anyone who wants a sampling of Harley’s endearingly psycho ilk without committing to the entire series, and it’s a great way to blow off some holiday season stress without actually going crazy.

Conner offers two cover choices: the main Christmas-themed and a variant with a New Year’s. I prefer the main cover and feel that  is missing out on a big money-making opportunity, if they don’t release these as Christmas cards next year. I’ll take four boxes, please!

Age Recommendation: Rated T.

Sophie Brown — The X-Files Season 10 #19 by Joe Harris with art by Tom Mandrake

The X-Files Season 10 Issue 19 \ Image: IDW Publishing

The X-Files Season 10 Issue 19. Image: IDW Publishing.

With #19, The X-Files returns to doing what it does best—cooking up nefarious government schemes being tested on an unsuspecting public. This time, we’re talking drugs and a conspiracy that dates back to the 1960s. The issue opens with a flashback to 1966, starring the Cigarette Smoking Man and Mulder’s father, who are dealing with the aftermath of a breach at a government facility. It’s an interesting start that introduces the key weapon in all of this: A government named G-23 that can “bring out the worst in people.” Whether or not Joe Harris is a fan of Firefly/Serenity I can’t say, but that’s quite a coincidence if he’s not. Could we be looking at a shared fictional universe? There’s nothing I’ve seen to say no!

Jumping forward to the present, and Mulder receives a tip off about this drug from the Smoking Man himself whilst waiting for a dinner date with Scully. I like that they have a dinner date. It reinforces that they’re an actual established couple now, without letting the mushy stuff overtake the plot. What I actually like more though is that the date doesn’t happen. It allows Scully to be upset at Mulder and for him to make amends, but in a way that keeps the plot moving forward. It also gives us some great banter, a piece of the X-Files puzzle that had been somewhat lacking in S10.

There are only three people you might turn to when investigating “government weed,” so it’s not long before The Lone Gunmen are on-board. It’s great to see them again, even if they are being used for some classic exposition scenes, and they naturally give Mulder all he needs to continue the investigation out in Nevada. It’s interesting that Scully doesn’t appear to follow him on this trip, although no explanation is given as to why not. Mulder isn’t alone, however, and we soon discover that Langly has decided to follow him. I have to admit that decision bugged me. For a man so paranoid about the government and who in the eyes of many is supposed to be dead, suddenly deciding to go flying halfway across the country just on the promise of “government ganja” seems way out of character. The final panel is… interesting. Even though it’s more than strongly insinuated that this is a hallucination, it’s inclusion feels weird and unnecessarily pervy.

This is a really strong issue with a solid plot and good character interactions. Tom Mandrake’s artwork is not at all to my taste, but I have to give it to the man; he can draw trippy well. I’m looking forward to see how this one concludes!

Age Recommendation: Age: 15+

Disclaimer: GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Corrina— Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1 by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Conner and a host of guest artists

We liked this so much, we reviewed it twice.

Reading a Harley Quinn comic by Conner and Palmiotti never fails to make me smile. I know that’s odd for a comic starring one of Batman’s more insane villains, but while Harley lacks inhibition, she can sometimes have a warm heart. She just kinda expresses it all wrong, like in the opening story, where she gives away her excess kittens and puppies by choosing among people out Christmas shopping. Or when she can’t quite say goodbye to the last puppy, so she terrorizes an entire police precinct to track the license plate number of the car where she left the puppy. This leads to her breaking and entering the home where the puppy is, just to make sure he’s okay. (Which he is.)

And then the bratty daughter of the family decides Harley is her Christmas present and… it becomes surprisingly touching. I forget sometimes that Harley is a psychiatrist. There’s also a number of fabulous pin-ups and two more stories—with one featuring Harley trying to stop the New Year from coming. All of it is sheer (though twisted) fun. This issue would make a great stocking stuff for any geek.

Age Recommendation: 13 + for adult situations

Batgirl-37 cover

Image: DC Comics.

Batgirl #37 by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, art by Babs Tarr

As it’s clear from my previous reviews, I’ve enjoyed this creative team change for Batgirl. I still do, but I’m starting to have some serious niggles that are interfering with my enjoyment of the fabulous art by Babs Tarr.

One is, as I said last time, Black Canary being such a jerk. That continues this issue, where she leaves Batgirl in the lurch. I hope this is a plot point that’s wrapped up very soon. The second is that this Babs is a little more carefree than I’m used to seeing her behave. Of course, the creative team wanted to add more fun into this, and they have, but still, Babs is a disciplined and careful person by nature, and I don’t think the writers have yet grasped that fully.

The third (MINOR SPOILER WARNING) is that at one point, the villain is mocked for cross-dressing. I believe the creators meant to mock the character himself for being over-the-top, but it comes across as slamming transgender people. The creative team has already issued an apology for this, so I won’t belabor the point. What I will say is that for the last three issues, Babs has taken down three minor and semi-forgettable villains sent against her by a mastermind. I’d like to have more story progression. Three times the same plot is at least one time too many.

Still, it’s great to see Babs in action against a doppleganger, well able to take care of herself, and seizing her own destiny. I like the new cast that’s been introduced and there’s one chilling panel, a callback to Babs in the wheelchair, that shows Tarr can do scary as well as fun. Also, there’s a great panel of the cast in civilian formal wear, which is fantastic. But I’m ready for this story of someone behind the scenes sending enemies at Batgirl to be done. My guess is Jim Gordon Jr., Babs’ brother, who has never quite been able to let his story succeed at anything.

Age Recommendation: 10 +

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC-Comics-Old.jpg marvel-logo1.jpg

Arrow Season 2.5 #3
Authority Vol. 2 TP
Batgirl Vol. 4 Wanted TP
Batgirl Vol. 5 Deadline HC
Batman #37
Batman And Robin #37
Batman And Robin Vol. 5 The Big Burn HC
Batman Eternal #37
Batman Kelley Jones Gallery Edition HC
Batman Superman #17
Batwoman #37
Catwoman #37
DMZ Deluxe Edition Vol. 3 HC
Earth 2 World’s End #11
Fables #147
Futures End Five Years Later Omnibus HC
Green Lantern New Guardians #37
Identity Crisis Tenth Anniversary Edition HC
Infinite Crisis The Fight For The Multiverse #6
Justice League #37
Kitchen #2 (Of 8)
MAD Magazine #531
Multiversity Thunderworld #1
New 52 Futures End #33
Red Hood And The Outlaws #37
Sandman Overture #4 (Of 6)
Smallville Season 11 Continuity #1 (Of 4)
Spectre Vol. 2 The Wrath Of God TP
Supergirl #37
Superman Batman Vol. 2 TP
Swamp Thing Vol. 5 The Killing Field TP
Teen Titans #5
Teen Titans Go #7
Trinity Of Sin #3
Wonder Woman #37
All-New Captain America #2
All-New X-Men #34
All-New X-Men Vol. 4 All-Different TP
Avengers And X-Men Axis #8 (Of 9)
Axis Hobgoblin #3 (Of 3)
Axis Revolutions #4 (Of 4)
Black Widow #13
Captain Marvel #10
Cyclops Vol. 1 Starstruck TP
Daredevil By Mark Waid Vol. 7 TP
Deadpool Vs X-Force #1-4 Master Set
Death Of Wolverine The Weapon X Program #4 (Of 5)
Deathlok #3
Elektra #9
Fantastic Four #14
Guardians Of The Galaxy #22
Inhuman #10
Marvel Firsts The 1980s Vol. 3 TP
Marvel Masterworks Famous Firsts 75th Anniversary Slipcase Set (2nd Edition)
Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble Season Two #2
Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man #8
Moon Knight #10
Ms. Marvel #10
Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe Avengers NOW
Powers Bureau Vol. 2 Icons TP
Scarlet Spiders #2 (Of 3)
Spider-Woman #2
Storm #6
Thunderbolts Vol. 5 Punisher Vs The Thunderbolts TP
Uncanny X-Force By Rick Remender The Complete Collection Vol. 2 TP
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

Bigger Bang #2 (Of 4)
Borderlands #5
Complete Junior And Sunny By Al Feldstein HC
G.I. JOE #4
G.I. JOE A Real American Hero #209
Ghostbusters Vol. 9 Mass Hysteria Part 2 TP
Ghoul Treasury Edition
Godzilla Cataclysm #5 (Of 5)
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth #19
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth Vol. 4 TP
IDW Winter 2014 Archival And Art Books Sampler
Killogy Halloween Special #1 (One Shot)
My Little Pony Equestria Girls Holiday Special
Ragnarok #3
Rot And Ruin #4
Shadow Show #2 (Of 5)
Star Trek #39
Star Trek New Adventures Vol. 1 TP
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ghostbusters #2 (Of 4)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #18
Transformers Drift Empire Of Stone #2 (Of 4)
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #36
True Blood Omnibus Vol. 1 TP
Winterworld Vol. 1 La Nina TP
Angel And Faith Season 10 Vol. 1 Where The River Meets The Sea TP
Athena Voltaire Compendium HC
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #126
Brain Boy #1 (#1 For $1 Edition)
Brain Boy Vol. 2 The Men From G.E.S.T.A.L.T. TP
Criminal Macabre The Third Child #4 (Of 4)
Dark Horse Presents #5
Dream Logic HC
Eerie Comics #6
Lobster Johnson Vol. 4 Get The Lobster TP
Predator Fire And Stone #3 (Of 4)
Trilogy USA HC

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading

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The GeekMoms’ Christmas Trees and the Geeky Stories Behind Them http://geekmom.com/2014/12/christmas-trees-geeky-stories/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/christmas-trees-geeky-stories/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=157469 The GeekMoms thought it would be fun to share our Christmas trees and the geeky stories behind them. We'd love to see and hear yours!

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A collection of the GeekMoms' trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.

A collection of the GeekMoms’ trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.

The GeekMoms thought it would be fun to share our Christmas trees and the geeky stories behind them. We would also love it if, in the comments, you shared images of your Christmas trees—via a link to your photo(s)—and the stories behind them.

Without further ado, let the sharing begin!

GeekMom Andrea’s Christmas Tree

Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.

Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.

GeekMom Andrea had this to say about her tree:

I did the unthinkable this year and suggested that for the first time in our family’s history we buy a fake tree. Every year as December approaches my husband and I have moved around the furniture in our cozy living room until it looks like something closer to a garage sale than a celebration in order to fit a giant, live tree in our space. It makes no sense. Plus: I come from a long line of fake-tree people. Pink trees. Aluminum trees…

It was time to stop living the “real tree” lie. It was time for a narrow white tree. With fiber optics. I think our tree this year is fabulous. My dream is to decorate it in an Atomic Ranch style—lots of spaceships and sputnik stars and robots and optimism about the future.

GeekMom Ariane’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Ariane Coffin

Photo by Ariane Coffin

GeekMom Ariane had this to say about her tree:

Here’s my crazy tree. How my husband puts up with it, I’ll never know. Much like the rest of our house, it’s all about BRIGHT OBNOXIOUS COLORS! And Hello Kitty. And being that generation who never has actual prints of photos… I keep thinking, “This year will be the year I insert photos in all of the photo ornaments! I’ll put them in the tree to remember to do it!” Yeaaaaaah, no. It never gets done.

GeekMom Judy’s Christmas Tree

Individual images by Judy Berna. Collage by Jules Sherred.

Individual images by Judy Burna. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Judy had this to say about her tree:

Every year we pay ten dollars for a permit that enables us to cut our tree from the National Forest here in Colorado. It helps the forest, by thinning out smaller trees, and it is a grand family adventure, no matter how old our ‘kids’ get. We hike through the woods and try to keep in mind that a tree that looks ‘normal sized’ in the forest is actually big enough to take up our whole living room. We get teased by family members who live in other states that we’ve become the Griswalds (from the Christmas Vacation movie) when we hike out into the woods, but we don’t mind. That’s what family memories are made of!

Geeky Jules’ Christmas Tree

Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.

Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.

Geeky Jules had this to say about his tree:

While my tree isn’t geeky, the fact that my OCD took 13 hours to decorate it kind of is. Plus, I’m still fiddling with little things here and there until my OCD is happy. But not only that, it’s a completely different concept than trees of past. This is the first year I haven’t used garland or tinsel, and decided to go with a very specific color scheme.

In response, GeekMom Ariane said on Twitter:

My response was:

OMG, this is so me!

Oh, how I laughed.

GeekMom Kay’s Christmas Tree

Kay's tree

Photo by Kay Moore

GeekMom Kay  had this to say about her tree:

We are themeless, no geekiness at all. My mom spent several decades collecting handmade ornaments, and I gave her one for Christmas each year. A few years ago, when we were in town, she retired from holiday entertaining and invited the extended family over to take turns selecting favorite ornaments. So now I have a bunch of old family favorites, including some that I made many many years ago as gifts for my mom.

I cherish a handful of handmade embroidered, needlepointed, knitted, etc., ornaments from our crafting family and friends. Our actual stockings are cross-stitched by my mom and me.

The other sort-of theme we have is to hang sturdy, survivable ornaments on the lower branches, where the cat’s mischief wreaks havoc.

We usually have a gold garland, but not loose tinsel. My husband likes loose tinsel but he usually is doing other things during the tree decorating. We often have bubble lites. I like best of all sparkly reflective ornaments, which conflicts with my textile sensibility.

Oh, I make mini stockings. I give one to my mom for each family member below her on the family tree, and I have a small, less custom, collection for decorating a mini tree.

GeekMom Lisa’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.

Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Lisa had this to say about her tree:

Our main tree has always been just a collection of our loves, memories and travel, with several geeky highlights throughout—Batman, TARDIS, Disney, comic book, and video game inspired ornaments— but we felt the ultimate Star Wars vs. Star Trek geek war needs to mingle in a little “Peace on Earth… and Beyond” tree with several ornaments from both franchises. Last year, we also updated our wreath to have a Hobbit theme as a perfect welcome for friends and family. Our girls have created their own little “Ever After” tree with Disney Princess, fairies, Hello Kitty, and My Little Pony, as well as decorating their “Doctor” for the season.

GeekMom Maryann’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Maryann had this to say about her tree:

In our house, it’s all about the collections. For years, the boy and I have been adding to our snowman, snowglobe, nutcracker, elf, and ornament collections. We make lots of trips to the local thrift stores looking for new treasures. It’s a real joy each year to unwrap long lost friends and arrange the collections for enjoyment. It’s not so much fun wrapping them up safe and sound until next year. I also pride myself on spending hours taking Christmas pictures of my tree, as well as local neighborhood displays. The geekier, the better.

GeekMom Natalie’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Natalie Zaman. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Natalie Zeman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Natalie had this to say about her tree:

We’ve had an artificial tree for about ten years, so I was very excited to get a real tree into the house again. Our ornaments are a hodgepodge of things we’ve collected over the years and things my children have made, and they all go up every year. The oldest is a little book, Saint Nicholas that
my mom had since before she was married—she’s 86, bless her—and the newest is a 3-D version of Edward Gorey’s “The Doubtful Guest”–I got him last week when I was on Cape Cod doing research–and I *finally* got to go to the Edward Gorey House. It was loads of fun and very special–his cousin gave us a tour of the place.

GeekMom Patricia’s Christmas Tree

he Vollmer family's new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

The Vollmer family’s new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

GeekMom Patricia had this to say about her tree:

I love our family’s new Christmas tree. After a couple years of wishing, we finally made the splurge for an LED prelit tree that changes colors. The particular one we got changes the colors very gracefully, slowly transitioning between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The decorations plan on our tree has evolved over the years into numerous geeky “zones”: Disney, trains, Penn State (our alma mater), Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other geekery (such as The Simpsons and Ghostbusters). Our 9- and 12-year-old sons have taken over most of the decorating duty, and they are very good about keeping to the zones. In addition to the zones, we have many traditional ornaments, such as souvenirs from our travels, commemorative ornaments, and kids’ homemade ornaments.

The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

GeekMom Rebecca’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Rebecca had this so say about her tree:

We do have regular decorations collected over the years, but I rarely put them up. I like to think up a theme of some sort, like origami or completely edible. This year it was knitted: so almost everything is a knitted thing of some sort. Our geekier side comes out in the other decorations. My son has three locations for extensive Lego Christmas displays, usually with some silly stuff happening with random figurines. I included a picture of Wolverine hanging a wreath.

GeekMom Sam’s Christmas Tree

Sam Collage 2

Individual photos by Samantha Cook. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sam had this to say about her tree:

Our family has a pretty traditional looking tree with old fashioned glass ornaments. But every year we all pick a new ornament, and write the name and year with Sharpie on the bottom. It is a wonderful way to remember holidays and interests past. When you look closer, you can see our ornaments tend to be on the geeky side!

GeekMom Sarah’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sarah had this to say about her tree:

I love Christmas trees. I have far more ornaments than I could possibly put on one tree. Before we had kids, we would put one up in the kitchen that had just our Disney ornaments on it, then the main tree in the living room with as many of the others as I can possibly squeeze on. My favorite ornament is my Department of Homeland Security Ornament. I found it in Boston shortly after I became a US citizen. We have many, many Hallmark ornaments, as Ben’s maternal grandparents send everyone a new ornament from that collection each year.  Ben has 22 of his own, we have 12, and the boys have six and three respectively.

It’s a beautiful tradition that I plan on continuing with my own grandchildren, in about forty years time! We have a lot of Disney ornaments, because I am a Disney nut. But my favorite kind of ornaments are the traditional glass kind. There are only two on our tree this year, but I love to find traditional baubles in unusual colors, or to find unusual glass figurines. We have a glass robot and a hiking Santa that are simply beautiful and they are on the tree. With a five-year-old and almost three-year-old in the house, my other glass baubles are still in the box! Last year, I gave myself an early Christmas present and bought new lights. I love them with a fervor that is not normal.

GeekMom Sophie’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Sophie Brown

Photo by Sophie Brown

GeekMom Sophie had this to say about her tree:

Here’s ours. It’s a complete mishmash, too: stuff from when I was a kid; ornaments we’ve collected on trips; things Fin has made at school. I like my trees to be totally chaotic but also totally balanced. It takes me forever to decorate them to a level I can cope with!

We don’t have a theme, but there’s a lot of Disney stuff on there. There are several painted porcelain discs from WDW, two of the custom ones you can have personalised at Downtown Disney—one is our wedding, another for Fin’s first Christmas—some special baubles that commemorated the 35th anniversary. This year I’ve added a set of the singing busts from Haunted Mansion. It’s kind of funny because the busts are nestled up next to completely traditional things like robins, angels, and Santas.

I have tiny tree in my office that’s about one-foot high, including the pot. That has a pin badge of Castiel at the top of it! I kind of want to make a Cas costume for one of my old Ken dolls so it can go on top of the tree next year. Not sure what my husband would think of that!

Oh, and we have a Christmas pterodactyl in the living room! #sixseasonsandamovie

Please share images of your Christmas trees and the stories behind them. We’d love to see and read them!

 

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Build a Sensational Wall Collage With CollageMo! http://geekmom.com/2014/12/collagemo-wall-collage/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/collagemo-wall-collage/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:00:04 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=156298 Use this new iOS app to create stunning wall collages from your photos.

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Look at that collage! Image: Maryann Goldman

Look at that collage! Image: Maryann Goldman.

Recently, I had the opportunity to try out CollageMo from Lamplighter Games. CollageMo is an iOS app for your iPad or iPhone that allows you to turn your photos into gorgeous wall collages. As an advanced amateur photographer, I have thousands of photos to choose from, and I couldn’t wait to get started and see what I could create.

You can use pictures from anywhere. CollageMo is able to import pictures from the photos stored on your iPhone or iPad, as well as Facebook and Instagram. CollageMo also plans to add support to get photos from your computer. For me, the photos I wanted to use were located on SmugMug. I downloaded the photos I wanted to use from SmugMug to my computer, and then I used another app called PhotoSync to move the photos to my iPad.

Choosing which pictures you want to include is the only hard part of this whole process. I spent at least three hours deciding on a theme and picking out my best photos in that area. I decided to go with flowers, butterflies, insects, and owls… all outside stuff.  Most of my best photography is of nature.

Before you start building your collage, of course, you’ll need to decide what wall in your house will showcase your beautiful creation. I chose the wall above the love seat where my guy and I sit all the time. The available space is approximately 5 ft.wide and 3 ft. tall, so I wanted the collage to be centered in that area. I decided to use a template with nine pictures that is 3 ft. wide and 1.5 ft. tall.  The app shows you how the collage looks centered over a brown couch, and that is helpful, but I would still recommend that you use a tape measure to make sure the collage dimensions are going to fit well in the space of your choice. You don’t want to end up with something too small or too big.

The CollageMo app is easy to use. You get to pick anything from a single shot to large, elegant templates. You can drag the pictures around within a given template, crop images as necessary, and even change the template to see how your images look in several layouts. You can even create a magic collage by pointing CollageMo to a group of pictures and allowing it to fill in the template for you.

I recommend that you pick a template that you think you want to use and start adding photos to fill it out. You’ve got to start someplace, right?!? Sometimes the photo you want to use doesn’t fit well in the available square or rectangle, so you may have to move things around and play with the layout a bit. Sometimes the photos don’t work together as a group as well as you’d hoped. I went back several times to look for additional photos to try. I guarantee, though, that you’ll get excited as you see your beautiful pictures come to life in your collage.

CollageMo picture selection process. Image: Maryann Goldman

The CollageMo picture-selection process. Image: Maryann Goldman.

photo 1 (1)

The CollageMo app and my collage. Image: Maryann Goldman.

When you’re happy with your collage, go ahead and place your order. You’ll get an order summary email indicating when your collage should arrive. Mine came quickly in less than 2 weeks.

When your collage arrives, check to make sure there’s no damage. The HD Metal Panels are just gorgeous! Wow! And the way they are mounted on a foam background for shipping and hanging prevents corner damage during shipment. I was so pleased that everything arrived intact. Besides the panels themselves, you’ll receive an instruction sheet, a bag of aluminum pins, some foam spacer squares, and a paper hanging template.

What's in the box. Image: Maryann Goldman

What’s in the box. Image: Maryann Goldman.

Take your time to familiarize yourself with all of the instructions. The paper instructions will direct you to a video and additional pictures and instructions online. After spending about 10 minutes reviewing the materials and the write-up, my guy and I were ready to do the install. It took us about an hour total, so make sure to give yourself enough time for the install when there won’t be a lot of distractions.

We started by centering the paper template on the wall with some painter’s tape. You’ll need a good tape measure too.

Getting the wall ready step 1. Image: Maryann Goldman

Step 1: Getting the wall ready. Image: Maryann Goldman.

As directed, we pushed the aluminum pins into the template. You only push them in far enough to score the wall in this step. Remove the pins and paper and then insert the pins completely.

Getting the wall ready step 2. Image: Maryann Goldman

Step 2: Getting the wall ready. Image: Maryann Goldman.

Now you are ready to remove part of the foam backing off the photo panels. The idea is to leave the hanging square(s) on the panel, but to remove the outer edges. The foam is perforated, so once you start it, it comes apart pretty easily. We were extremely careful not to allow our fingers to touch the images.

Getting the pictures ready to hang. Image: Maryann Goldman

Getting the pictures ready to hang. Image: Maryann Goldman.

The instructions state that you should put foam spacers on the backs of the smaller squares. This will keep the images straight on the wall.

Small images need foam support. Image: Maryann Goldman

Small images need foam support. Image: Maryann Goldman.

In no time at all, we were ready to stand back and enjoy our new collage!

Even the cat approves. Image: Maryann Goldman

Even the cat approves. Image: Maryann Goldman.

The hanging system truly is easy enough that anyone should be able to get the collage mounted on their wall correctly. You even get that professional looking shadow around the images.

It is important to note that this collage is flexible. You can always add more pictures to the collage or swap out pictures to give your collage a new look.

I’m so pleased with my new collage that I’m already looking at building another large collage for the wall over my bed!

The CollageMo single panels start at $15.99, with collages starting at $63.99. The HD Metal panels really are impressive, and I am convinced that even the larger collages are worth the money.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

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Holiday Crafts for Cheapskates: Little Geeky Charms http://geekmom.com/2014/12/little-geeky-charms/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/little-geeky-charms/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:00:36 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=157374 Get ready to get carried a way making these "charming" little crafts.

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geekycharms

A little bit of material goes a long way in making any of these geeky charm ideas including “Santa-pose” Doctor Who Adipose charms, Fred’s Big Hero 6 necklace, and Star Wars Episode VII-style lightsabers. All images by Lisa Kay Tate.

Like most parents, facing our kids’ growing list of holiday gift recipients can be quite daunting. So, during the month of December, I’m sharing a few inexpensive and easy crafts kids can make to check off names on that list.

Since we made Comic Gift Pockets with toilet paper rolls and comic clippings last week, it only seems right to make a little something small enough to put in them…like a Geeky Charm.

Several of these little charms—a “Santa-pose” Doctor Who charm, Fred’s Squid necklace from Big Hero 6, and the new and much-talked-about Lightsaber sword seen in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer—can be made using a small amount of materials.

Materials:

  • One square of polymer clay (Santa-Pose and Squid)
  • One package each of red bugle beads, red seed beads, and small silver beads (lightsaber)
  • Beading wire
  • Small eye-pins

Santa-Pose: Roll a piece of white or ivory polymer into a ball, and shape it into a little marshmallow.

To mold the arms and legs, roll four little balls into cylinders and shape (as pictured).

Add a little Santa hat with one flattened piece of white, one cone-shaped piece of red, green, or other color, and one small ball. If you have some remnant pieces of another color polymer, you can use these, or just color the white cone-shaped clay with felt tip markers once the piece is baked. Attach the hat to the adipose, and place a small eye-pin down through the center.

Bake according to clay’s instructions. Smaller pieces sometimes don’t have to bake nearly as long, so watch them to make sure they don’t start to get discolored. Once cooled, use a felt tip marker or craft paint to draw their faces, and color the hats, if needed.

adiposeassembly

Assembling your Santa-pose.

 

Fred’s Squid Pendant: Roll three small cones (tapered, rolled pieces) out of day-glo, or light green, polymer clay. Make the center piece slightly smaller than the other two.

Mold these together at their thickest end, and smooth out the crevices, so it resembles a little green squid-like creature. Cut the top end off, so it is flat across the top, and place the eye-pin the center. Bake the clay as directed on the package.

Once the clay has cooled, use a felt tip marker, or craft paint, to dab two little dark green dots on the two outside “tentacles.” In the center of the pendant, dab a circle of white paint and let it dry. Over the circle, use a felt tip to draw a smaller bit of red, and black pupil, so it resembles an “eye.”

fredassembly

Assembling Fred’s squid pendant.

Lightsaber: String one red seed bead onto a one-foot long piece of beading wire, and fold in half. String around four bugle beads over both ends of the folded wire for the main blade. Make sure to use wire thin enough to fit through the beads twice.

Separate the two wire ends, and string two or three small silver beads on each end, followed by one small bugle bead and one red seed bead. Fold each end in half and draw the wire back through the bugle bead and silver beads, NOT the seed bead. Bugle beads come in different lengths (measured in millimeters). Depending on the size lightsaber you want, you might only need one 20 to 35 mm for the blade, and one 4 to 11 mm for each of the sides.

Once the side pieces are done, bring the two wire ends together again, and string three-or-four silver beads along them. Make a loop with the remainder of the wire, and twist it around the beads to secure it. Cut off excess wire and use a toothpick to make sure there are no pieces poking out. Secure with a tiny drop of super glue if needed.

This last charm is initially the most expensive, but in the span of a couple of hours, you can make enough little lightsabers for an entire tiny Sith army with one package.

saberassembly

Assembling your lightsaber.

Any of these charm ideas can be attached to small ribbons, satin or rope cords, or loop bands, charm clasps, or French earring hooks. Clip them to cards, or tie them onto gift-wrap ribbons. Put them in a little bowl for guests to take home from parties, or throw a bunch in a large zip-topped plastic bag for your child to take to school and let their friends and teachers pick out their favorites.

Whatever the use or presentation, any teacher, friend, or relative who receives these little hand-made thoughts will certainly be charmed.

charm ideas

Trim a tree or fill a party favor box.

 

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Book Review: Chicks Dig Gaming http://geekmom.com/2014/12/book-review-chicks-dig-gaming/ http://geekmom.com/2014/12/book-review-chicks-dig-gaming/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:00:59 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=157455 In Chicks Dig Gaming, 35 female contributors bring a ton of talent and a wide range of experiences to the table, with appeal to gamers of all stripes.

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I’m a huge fan of the sharing of memories with fellow enthusiasts of geeky stuff. If you’ve got recollections of getting lost in a maze of twisty passages, all alike, I dig that. Or if you never got all the sand out of Kenner Luke’s hollow arm after recreating his Tatooine adventures; or if you can vividly remember the real-world setting in which you finally reached the words, “Well, I’m back,” he said. for the first time, then you’ve got a story I want to hear.

The stories people tell about the things that matter to them and that have shaped them, are some of my favorite things to read, so it’s really not a surprise that I’m giving Mad Norwegian Press’s Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of All Things Gaming by the Women Who Love It a big thumbs-up.

Chicks Dig Gaming
is the latest addition to Mad Norwegian’s Geek Girl Chronicles, which includes the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords, as well as books about comics and the works of Joss Whedon. The new book’s thirty-five female contributors bring a ton of talent and a wide range of experiences to the table, and their works are likely to appeal to gamers of all stripes. (You can find a full list of the book’s authors and their chapters here.)

Among their inspirations you’ll find a century-old board game about Nellie Bly, LucasArts’ Monkey Island series, chess, Carmen Sandiego, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and LARPing. The book also includes interviews with Paizo Publishing founder and CEO Lisa Stevens, and author/game creator Margaret Weis.

Approaches to the essays run the gamut from straight-up nostalgia to academic criticism to debate to personal gender identity, introspection and insight.

GeekMoms and GeekDads, for example, may take particular interest in Filamena Young’s chapter about bringing up her daughters in a gaming landscape. Linnea Dodson’s “Game Change” explores her discovery of indie and artisan games, and Fiona Moore’s “A Chick Who Doesn’t Dig Games Plays Portal” – well, it’s just what it says.

And you’ll find really good storytelling throughout.

Read more of John Booth’s review over at GeekDad.

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