GeekMom Smart. Savvy. Social. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:00:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Mission Is in Sight! Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:00:24 +0000 As a writer of science fiction, as well as a former astrophysics major in college, I usually like to stay up to date on science news. Space news in particular. And when I hear the words, “manned space travel,” I tend to get very excited.

The post The Mission Is in Sight! appeared first on GeekMom.


Image: NASA

As a writer of science fiction, as well as a former astrophysics major in college, I usually like to stay up to date on science news. Space news in particular. And when I hear the words, “manned space travel,” I tend to get very excited.

See, when I was a kid, I remember the first shuttle going up. I was completely obsessed with the NASA space program. I wanted to be an astronaut. I went to Space Camp. I wanted to go up more than anything in the world. But then accidents happened, and budget cuts happened, and the political world seemed to get in the way. Shuttles got old and were retired. And there was never enough money, or, it seemed, interest.

On Tuesday (September 16th) when NASA posted there would be an announcement about their Commercial Crew Development contract, I was glued to NASA Television. For those of you who don’t know what this is, you can find some information on NASA’s website as well as the program’s Wikipedia page. In some simple terms, NASA is contracting two civilian companies to build vehicles and launch systems in order to reach low Earth orbit by 2017, followed by missions to asteroids and, eventually, Mars. Companies made proposals to NASA’s committee of career civil servants, who had the difficult job of choosing among them to find one or two that would meet all of their criteria.

There were four main functions that had to be accomplished by the spacecraft of whichever company was chosen for the contract. According to the workshop given by NASA on May 20, 2011, on the requirements of the Commercial Crew Transportation Contract, these functions are:


Image: NASA

1. Perform ISS (International Space Station) crew rotations
2. Deliver and return four crew and their equipment
3. Provide assured crew return in the event of an emergency
4. Serve as a 24-hour safe haven in the event of an emergency
(NASA Commercial Crew Program Workshop, Session 4: Key Driving Requirements Walkthrough; Rob Bayt, Panel Lead; May 20, 2011)

At the press conference Tuesday, NASA announced that Boeing, with their CST 100, and Space X, with their Crew Dragon, have earned the contracts for $4.2 billion and $2.6 billion respectively.

This contract is exciting for many reasons. First of all, it’s fabulous to know that people of my son’s generation will be able to see the Earth from space. That had long been a dream of mine, and while I haven’t been able to realize it (yet!), it’s inspiring to think maybe my son or nephews/niece might be able to walk on the moon or an asteroid—maybe even Mars.

If all goes well and the program meets its 2017 launch date, it will mean humans can go beyond low Earth orbit for the first time in forty years. Forty years!

The Commercial Crew Transportation Contract will also allow these private companies to offer transportation privately, in addition to the services they provide to NASA. This will lower costs of the program, allowing for more research and development, and will allow NASA to afford other opportunities.

With this program, we will no longer be reliant on any other country to go into space. Our entire space program will not be in jeopardy if another country can’t afford it, or if politics get in the way. This will provide jobs within our country and make us a player again in scientific and engineering advances throughout the world. We will, as a nation, be “poised to explore a beckoning universe,” as astronaut Mike Fincke said during the news conference Tuesday.

Space is, in the immortal words of Gene Roddenberry, the final frontier. And fortunately for our endeavoring spirits, it is larger than we can imagine. I’m so happy we as a nation are taking the steps, no matter how small, to explore that place, and to expand our existence beyond what our forefathers ever thought possible.

The post The Mission Is in Sight! appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
MyCharge Talk & Charge Batteries Simplify Charging While Using Your Phone Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:00:11 +0000 MyCharge Talk & Charge battery packs simplify phone charging by making it easy to charge your device and use it at the same time.

The post MyCharge Talk & Charge Batteries Simplify Charging While Using Your Phone appeared first on GeekMom.

MyCharge iPhone

MyCharge Talk & Charge for iPhone, Image: MyCharge

There are a lot of choices when it comes to keeping your phone charged when you’re on the go, but they don’t all make using your phone at the same time easy. Awkward cables, the need to switch cases, or bulky charging units can make it all but impossible to use your phone while it’s getting juiced. The MyCharge Talk & Charge devices finally take care of that problem.

Available in two flavors for either the iPhone 5S/5C/5 or for phones with a micro-USB port, these battery packs are slim, lightweight, and roughly the size of your average phone. They have built in cables that let you plug them in while the battery itself stays out of the way, tucked snug against the back of your device. There are even little rubber feet so that it won’t scratch your case or phone.


MyCharge Talk & Charge for Micro-USB Devices, Image: MyCharge

You can still easily hold your phone for texting, emailing, or talking without the battery getting in the way. It makes your phone thicker, but it doesn’t make it unusable or force you to unplug and stop charging. It also doesn’t require you to swap out your case since the built-in plugs work with whatever case you usually have on your phone.

The iPhone version will provide an additional 13 hours of talk time with a 3000mAh lithium ion battery. It’s also capable of pass through charging and will charge your device and the battery at the same time. It measures just 4.9″ x 2.4″ x 0.5″ and weighs only .26 pounds.

MyCharge Micro USB

MyCharge Talk & Charge for Micro-USB Devices, Image: MyCharge

The micro-USB version also has pass through charging and will provide an additional 18 hours of talk time with a 4000mAh lithium ion battery. It measures 5.0″ x 2.5″ x 0.4″ and weighs the same trim .26 pounds. This one does double-duty with the addition of a USB port that will allow you to charge a second device at the same time.

Both also have an LED readout so you know how much charge is left in the battery. Simply press a button and the four lights display the charge in easy-to-read 25% increments so you won’t be caught off guard when it’s empty.


Image: MyCharge

Using these on my phone, I found that they quickly became my favorite battery packs for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is that they are so darn small and easy to use. It seems that as soon as my phone runs out of juice and I plug it in, that there are ten different reasons that I need to use my phone.

It’s awkward with a big cable and an even bigger charger. This one is so small it was still easy to hold my phone in one hand for texting. It was also small enough that I could easily hold it to my ear to talk without having the battery hanging awkwardly.

The Talk & Charge batteries also didn’t run hot, which many batteries do especially when you’re charging and using your device. And they charged quickly, giving my phone a healthy charge in a very short time, again, while I was using it, too.


Image: MyCharge

These are small enough that you can carry them anywhere and are perfect for tucking into your purse or bag just in case you run low. They’re also great to have on hand in case the power runs out and you need to make sure you still have your phone ready to use.

The MyCharge Talk & Charge for iPhone and micro-USB retail for $59.99 each and are a great solution for those looking for lightweight phone charging that doesn’t hamper your ability to actually use your phone.

I received these products for review purposes.

The post MyCharge Talk & Charge Batteries Simplify Charging While Using Your Phone appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
Writing the New Queen of Wonderland Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:00:31 +0000 A geekmom writes a comic that could be characterized as starring a geekmom.

The post Writing the New Queen of Wonderland appeared first on GeekMom.


Wonderland #27 variant cover

I admit, I’ve been avoiding Zenescope Comics because of the covers. My fellow GeekMom Dakster, however, has been loving their Robyn Hood series, and that piqued my curiosity. And then Zenescope hired my friend and Grayhaven Comics editor Erica Heflin to write their Wonderland series.

So I had to check it out. I came away impressed not only, as I expected, because of Erica’s writing on the two issues I’ve read but because of the fascinating storyworld in which Wonderland is set. It’s ostensibly the Wonderland from Lewis Carroll’s stories but with a twist and a rich history that’s been evident in the two issues I’ve read. In a way, you could say a geekmom (Erica) is writing another geekmom, Calie Liddle, the new White Queen of Wonderland.

Last week, I interviewed Erica about the world building in Wonderland, her other comics, and where she’d like to go next.

GeekMom: So, for the uninitiated, what is Wonderland?

Erica Heflin: Wonderland is an ongoing series focused on one of the four realms of the Zenescope universe —the realm of dreams. It’s a wild place driven by the limits of imagination. Currently the realm is under the guidance of White Queen Calie Liddle and recovering from a plague of madness.

What I love is that Calie has a longstanding hatred of Wonderland and all the pain it’s brought to her life. Now she’s in a position where she needs Wonderland to keep the people she loves safe.

GM: What are your plans for the series?

EH: We’ve only seen a small corner of the Wonderland universe, and now we’re walking through so many doors that no one knew were there. This realm is rich with history and an incredible array of characters. They’re all tugging at the fabric of the universe and trying to gain a foothold. Calie’s struggle is to maintain control without losing herself.WONDER026_cover-A

GM: One of the elements that surprised me in your first issue is that the new Queen is the mother of a teenage daughter, adding depth to her character right away. What other elements of Wonderland do you think might surprise people?

EH: Wonderland is a horror concept book with a lot of high fantasy elements, but it’s also very character driven. There are a lot of relationships at play–from enemies that are learning to trust one another to families trying to protect each other.

The complexity of these interactions takes the book beyond the basic survival horror genre. As I continue writing Wonderland, I’m surprised by the number of comedic moments that present themselves. It’s wonderful to have that dynamic to ease tension or subvert expectations.

GM: Wonderland‘s publisher has a reputation for those overly sexy covers. What’s your take on those?

EH: It’s a complicated issue and my response varies from cover-to-cover. I enjoy sexy women on covers if the artwork is beautiful and the characterization is appropriate.

Whether I’m looking at Catwoman or Calie I want a cover that tells me about the character rather than simply shows me how she can bend. Or alternatively, I like pinup style covers that are fun historical reflections or don’t take themselves seriously.

GM: What was your path to writing comics?

EH: I started on a small press book from Grayhaven comics. I wrote a two-page story that was illustrated by George Amaru, and it was beautiful. Seeing those pages brought to life turned me into a comic writing addict. After that story I was invited to participate in a few other anthologies which eventually led to me taking a job as an editor at Grayhaven.

Through them and their support I was introduced to the talented people at Inverse Press, and from there my comic creating universe just kept growing. I’ve had a wonderful time meeting and speaking with creators all over the world and helping writers and artists tackle their first comics projects.

GM: What would you recommend to others seeking to write for pay?

EH: Whether you write for comics or prose you need to get your work out there. You need to attend conventions, promote yourself online, and create opportunities for people to see your work. Have completed projects to show, and show them to everyone with enthusiasm.

A character card from Flesh of White #2's Kickstarter page

A character card from Flesh of White #2′s Kickstarter page

GM: What’s your favorite of the books you’ve written?

EH: I love them all, but the one closest to my heart right now is Flesh of White.

The comic Amanda Rachels and I put together reflects on real life events in ways that terrify me. In some ways I hate that it so accurately depicts what Tanzanian men and women with albinism should fear and must endure. My hope is that with this story more people all over the world will become aware of these atrocities and will be inspired to take action.

Though they’re difficult to write, I feel very strongly about telling stories that are emotionally compelling and touch on important topics. I don’t want to reveal too much about the upcoming stories in Wonderland, but I get to tackle subjects ranging from moral ambiguity to letting a child sink or swim on their own. We’ll be facing a lot of hard questions and complex decisions.

GM: What’s your dream job? What characters would you love to write?

EH: Any job I’m on at the time feels like a dream job. It feels like a terrible answer, but when I get into these characters’ frames of mind and explore the core of who they are it’s exhilarating.

But as to characters I’d love to write… I’d have a wonderful time with Zenescope’s Liesel Van Helsing, Marvel’s Storm, DC’s Black Canary and Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle, and…. Xena.

GM: What’s next for you?

EH: I’m going to keep powering through Wonderland and tackling some creator-owned projects through Inverse Press. At Zenescope I have the pleasure of working on a mini-series that is more closely related to Grimm Fairy Tales than Wonderland. The pages are rolling in and look stunning, so look for that announcement on the horizon!

Wonderland #27 releases today and is available at direct comic shops nationwide, Zenescope’s website and at

The post Writing the New Queen of Wonderland appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Futures End, X-Files, and a Ruby Throne Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:00:06 +0000 We continue in the way of the freaky with The X-Files and Elric, as well as more installments of DC's Futures End September event

The post GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Futures End, X-Files, and a Ruby Throne appeared first on GeekMom.

batwoman futures end

Cover of Batwoman: Futures End #1 \ Image: 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 we continue in the way of the freaky with The X-Files and Elric, as well as more installments of DC’s Futures End September event.

Sophie Brown — The X-Files Season 10 #16 by Joe Harris and art by Colin Lorimer and Francesco Francavilla

XFiles Season 10 #16 cover \ Image: IDW Publishing

X-Files Season 10 #16 cover \ Image: IDW Publishing

The X-Files always kept apace with the big news stories of its day, referencing subjects including the Waco and Ruby Ridge sieges, Saddam Hussein, and Gulf War syndrome, and this issue continues that tradition.

Writing a comic about any current issue is always going to risk treading dangerous ground. Setting one that begins at a North Carolina abortion clinic in 2014 takes that risk level to new heights. Wherever you fall on the moral spectrum on this highly contentious issue, praise has to go to both writer Joe Harris and IDW publishing for tackling the subject.

The issue doesn’t tread softly through this territory.

The very first page shows protesters outside the clinic holding up placards with pictures of aborted fetuses and screaming “babykiller” and “murderer” at the young girl entering its gates. It’s shocking, more so in that this part of the story portrays nothing supernatural at all but daily life in many parts of the U.S. Once inside, the story has a chance to kick off when a bomb is detonated and Mulder and Scully are called in on what is honestly very little evidence. I found it quite incredible that the FBI would call these two into a highly sensitive case (and we all know Mulder’s history when it comes to dealing with small town folk and sensitive subjects) in on what could easily be a camera artifact on blurred CCTV footage.

My own misgivings aside, Mulder and Scully are soon in North Carolina interviewing witnesses and anyone else vaguely connected to the case.

The artwork here is stunning and the coloring is some of the best I’ve seen in the series so far, giving the entire thing an overbearing and frightening feel. It’s nice to see Scully handling a religious case again too. Her personal battles with faith and the episodes that explored that were always some of my favorite, and we see that a little once again here as she sees things Mulder is willing to explain away and assign to simple domestic terrorism.

The issue concludes with a simple yet ominous image that hints at something even more sinister coming in the story’s concluding issue next month. I hope we get to see more of Scully tackling this case and that the conclusion lives up to what is a very promising beginning.

Age Recommendation: Teen and up.

Lisa Tate — Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne (based on the novels by Michael Moorcock) by Julien Blondel and art by Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, and Robin Recht

Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne \ Image: Titan Comics

Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne \ Image: Titan Comics

Every fantasy and science fiction writer strives to have that signature world and character for which they are best known; one that fans can’t wait to read, and artists love to interpret. For author Michael Moorcock, that character is likely Elric. Titan Comics Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne, written by Julien Blondel and illustrated by Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, and Robin Recht, has gained the respect and approval of Moorcock himself.

After a thousand years of rule, Elric, whose longevity spawns from his addition of medicinal herbs, is seeing his kingdom falling apart before him, as his cousin, Yyrkoon, plots to take over the Ruby Throne.

Moorcock, who first debuted his anti-hero, the albino emperor Elric of Melniboné, in the 1960s and 1970s, gave this graphic novel adaptation his full endorsement. There are often comparisons of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings, but Moorcock’s dark and gothic world of betrayal, loyalty, vengeance, and love is also a viable predecessor.

I had never read the novel version of Elric, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I did find the continual cruel and graphic torture and bloodletting of humans by the Melnibonéan race in fully illustrated form very off-putting and downright depressing. I realize it was intended to reflect early on the ruthless nature of the main race of people in this story, but after a while the piles of naked people wallowing in gore just seemed to get in the way of an otherwise interesting and well-crafted story.

Fantasy and science fiction lovers—myself included—might do best to stick to the novels, and leave the graphic novel version to those whose taste veers towards the horror stylings of Clive Barker or Eli Roth.

Age Recommendation: Mature

Corrina — Futures EndBatwoman #1 by Marc Andreyko and Jason Masters, Futures End: Wonder Woman #1 by Charles Soule and Rags Morales, Futures End: Superman/Wonder Woman #1 by Charles Soule and Bart Sears, Futures End: Justice League #1 by Jeff Lemire and Jed Dougherty, and Futures End: Batman and Robin #1 by Ray Fawkes and Dustin Nguyen

I’ve been disappointed with the vast majority of DC Comics for years now and I fully expected that to continue with the apostrophe-less Futures End issues set five years in the DC universe future. Thus, when I set down the stack sent by DC this week, it was with surprise. This were all readable. Some were fun. None were duds. Between this and new series like Gotham Academy, I may have to revise my overall opinion of the DC line.

Batwoman was the issue I’d been dreading. A pale-skinned lesbian becomes a vampire. Unimaginative. But the issue isn’t about that, not really. Kate Kane, now completely irredeemable, is hunted down by her sister, Alice, who has reformed. And so there’s a final confrontation between the sisters in a church that ends sadly but seems absolutely appropriate given their history.

A two-part story begins in Wonder Woman and concludes in Superman/Wonder Woman but this is really a WW solo story, focusing on her role as the new God of War and her battle with nemesis. Again, I expected to cringe at the use of Princess McStabby Sword as WW’s main personality but, instead, this concluded on a positive note that shows writer Charles Soule may actually get Wonder Woman. Oh, sure, the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship is in there and it’s still boring but it works as a friendship. (Which is always did.)

Futures End #1: Batman and Robin features yet another partner for Batman, a young man who was instrumental in helping Bruce Wayne survive his year-long Year Zero adventure. They’re up against Leviathan, who may or may not be a clone of Damian Wayne, Bruce’s dead son. But mostly the story is about Batman allowing people to help him. I thought it would end badly but, hey, another hopeful ending.

I’m not sure what Futures End: Justice League #1 was but it was interesting. The team seems to be an amalgam of space-based DC characters, the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice League. But it all works, as they stop a breakout on a prison planet maintained by the Martian Manhunter. I expected the heroes to get slaughtered but, surprisingly, yet another one where heroes win.

DC better stop this or else I’ll start thinking they might be publishing actual superhero comics again.

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

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

Astro City Through Open Doors TP
Astro City Victory HC
Batman And Robin Futures End #1
Batman Eternal #24
Batman Superman Futures End #1
Batman Unwrapped The Court Of Owls HC
Batwoman Futures End #1
Fables #144
Forever Evil Arkham War TP
Godzilla Awakening TP
Gotham Central Special Edition #1
Green Lantern New Guardians Futures End #1
Infinite Crisis The Fight For The Multiverse #3
Justice League Futures End #1
Multiversity The Society Of Super-Heroes Conquerors Of The Counter-World #1
New 52 Futures End #20
New Teen Titans Vol. 1 TP
Red Hood And The Outlaws Futures End #1
Scribblenauts Unmasked A Crisis Of Imagination #9 (Final Issue) Kid-Friendly
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #2
Supergirl Futures End #1
Superman Wonder Woman Futures End #1
Superman Wonder Woman Vol. 1 Power Couple HC
Teen Titans Futures End #1
Toe Tags Featuring George Romero TP
Trinity Of Sin Pandora Futures End #1
Unwritten Tommy Taylor And The Ship That Sank Twice TP
Unwritten Vol. 2 Apocalypse #9
Wonder Woman Futures End #1
All-New X-Factor #14
All-New X-Men #32
Avengers #35
Avengers Vol. 4 Infinity TP
Avengers World #13
Daredevil #8
Dark Tower The Drawing Of The Three The Prisoner #2 (Of 5)
Deadpool Bi-Annual #1
Edge Of Spider-Verse #2 (Of 5) New Mini-Series
Elektra #6
Figment #3 (Of 5)
Hulk #6
Hulk Annual #1
Indestructible Hulk Vol. 3 S.M.A.S.H. Time TP
Miles Morales The Ultimate Spider-Man #5
Nova #21 GeekMom Recommended
Original Sin #5.5
Savage Hulk #4 New Series
Sub-Mariner And The Original Human Torch TP
Superior Spider-Man #33
Thor God Of Thunder #25
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man By Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 5 TP
Uncanny Avengers #24
Uncanny Avengers Vol. 3 Ragnarok Now TP
Uncanny X-Men #26
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. HC
Wolverine And The X-Men #9
X-Men The Adventures Of Cyclops And Phoenix TP
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

Doberman #3
Godzilla Cataclysm #2 (Of 5)
Judge Dredd #23
Littlest Pet Shop #5 (Of 5) Kid Friendly Final Issue
Maxx Maxximized #11
Super Secret Crisis War Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends #1 Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles in Time #4 (Of 4)
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #33
Transformers Phase One Omnibus TP
X-Files Season 10 #16
Authentic Accounts Of Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities Omnibus TP
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #123
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #7
Complete Silencers TP
Criminal Macabre The Third Child #1 (Of 4)
Dark Horse Presents #2
Eye Of Newt #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Ghost Vol. 2 The White City Butcher TP
Good Luck Trolls Mystery Box Assortment Series 4
Leaving Megalopolis HC GeekMom Recommended
Red Moon HC
Savage Sword Of Conan Vol. 17 TP
Strain The Night Eternal #2 New Series
Witchfinder The Mysteries Of Unland #4 (Of 5)

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

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review copy of some of these titles.

The post GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Futures End, X-Files, and a Ruby Throne appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
The World of Cartoons Explored in Stripped; Save 39% Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:00:18 +0000 The award-winning documentary about the past and future of cartooning has a Deluxe Edition (with over 26 hours of content!) available at a discount for a limited time.

The post The World of Cartoons Explored in Stripped; Save 39% appeared first on GeekMom.


My family loves comics and animation. When we discovered a Kickstarter project to fund development of a documentary about the the past and future of cartooning, a documentary that features our best cartoonists, we started kicking.

Once we pledged to the Kickstarter project for Stripped, the fun jumped off our computer screens, as we got frequent updates about the progress of the documentary. We felt like we had a window looking in on a working studio and production office. This just added to our excitement as the film neared completion and the premiere drew near. In April, my daughter and I drove to Hollywood to join cartoon fanatics in attending the premiere, where several of the cartoonists who were interviewed for the film also appeared in a special post-screening Q&A session with the filmmakers. We were thrilled with the quality and entertaining content of the film. More than 80 cartoonists speak during the film and many segments appear of cartoons being constructed, conceived, or analyzed.

Rebecca and Kay at the Stripped premiere. Photo courtesy Stripped Film.

Since then, Stripped has toured to many film festivals and pop-culture cons. You can see the upcoming appearance dates at the Stripped website or Twitter feed.

Until September 19, you can get the Stripped Deluxe Edition for $39.99, a 39 percent discount. This includes the movie (clean and adult-language versions), the extras reel (30 minutes), directors’ commentary, and 15 full interviews. This totals over 26 hours of additional unmatched content. (There are also other editions available for lower prices.)

The post The World of Cartoons Explored in Stripped; Save 39% appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
Peavey Announces Guardians of the Galaxy Guitars and Ukes Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:00:55 +0000 Play along to your own "awesome mix" with Peavey's latest offering of licensed Marvel products.

The post Peavey Announces Guardians of the Galaxy Guitars and Ukes appeared first on GeekMom.


Peavey’s Guardians of the Galaxy Rockmaster Guitar. Image: Peavey Electronics.

Just when Guardians of the Galaxy couldn’t get any more popular, Peavey Electronics has recently added a line of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy instruments and accessories to their line of Marvel products.

The line includes a Guardians of the Galaxy version of Peavey’s popular Rockmaster Guitar, as well as a three-quarter student-size model. A half-size acoustic version is also offered.

Peavey General Manager Tony Moscal said they try to keep their graphics based upon the age of the intended user.

Spider-Man continues to be Peavey's most popular Marvel line. Pictured is the Spider-man ukulele. Image: Peavey Electronics.

Spider-Man continues to be Peavey’s most popular Marvel line. Pictured is the Spider-man ukulele. Image: Peavey Electronics.

“For example our half and three-quarter size student instruments feature images that are more youth based comic oriented graphic,” Moscal said. “As the instruments increase in size, price, and sophistication, the graphics are more mature.”

Other licensed lines appealing to younger players include DC Comics, Major League Baseball, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This line for older teens and adults include The Walking Dead and House of Blues. Next up for the company is a line of products featuring The Simpsons.

Moscal said the biggest seller in the Marvel line continues to be Spider-Man, although there are always spikes in sales whenever a new movie is released. This is certainly the case with skyrocketing popularity of Guardians of the Galaxy.

In addition to the guitars, the Guardians of the Galaxy line includes straps and picks, as well as an instrument that is getting more and more attention, ukuleles.

Moscal said ukuleles have always sold well, especially with younger and beginning players.

“Ukulele sales continue to be strong as it is and easier instrument to start learning with, especially in Europe where most kids start playing ukes in school,” he said.

One of the byproducts of the Peavey’s Marvel, as well as other licensed design tie-ins, has been helping to spark an interest in music and learning an instrument with more young players.

“We have seen excitement regarding beginners getting involved in music because of their favorite characters,” Moscal said. “It also creates bragging rights to show their friends.”

As Rocket Raccoon would say: “Oh, yeah!”

Peavey’s entire Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel line is available on their website at

The post Peavey Announces Guardians of the Galaxy Guitars and Ukes appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
Technovation Launches Student Showcase! Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:00:46 +0000 Technovation, the longest running girls-in-tech program, launched a complete gallery of 362 mobile apps developed by participants in 26 countries today!

The post Technovation Launches Student Showcase! appeared first on GeekMom.


Image courtesy of Technovation

Technovation, the longest running girls-in-tech program, launched a complete gallery of 362 mobile apps today. This gallery is a comprehensive look at the work developed by the participants in 26 countries around the world. The gallery showcases the diversity of issues girls face around the world and the technological solutions they come up with.

Founded in 2009, Technovation focuses on addressing the gender diversity issues in computer programming, engineering, and entrepreneurship by mentoring girls ages 10-23 through the development of mobile apps. To personalize the experience, Technovation encourages girls to help solve a problem they see in their own community, underlining the value and relevance one can have at a grassroots level.  Technovation sessions begin in January and run through late April. You can check out the Technovation website to learn more.

The post Technovation Launches Student Showcase! appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
Our Epic Family Road Trip to GenCon Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:00:16 +0000 We took our two girls with us on our annual trip to GenCon this year, and it was a whole new adventure.

The post Our Epic Family Road Trip to GenCon appeared first on GeekMom.


Helping build Cardhalla. Image: Nicole Wakelin

We’ve been to GenCon for the last five years, but it has always just been me and my husband. We’ve flown out and driven out and decided that driving is more fun. Flying can be a hassle and I love road trips, so we always stop at fun places along the way. World’s largest ball of twine? I’m in!

This year, we did the whole trip a little differently because we decided to bring our two girls for the first time. They’re 12 and 10 and have been to local conventions, just nothing this big and all consuming. It’s one thing to drive into Boston for the day to attend PAX East, but an entirely different thing to drive 14 hours and then spend four days straight at a convention.

We thought about this, a lot, before we actually decided to bring them on the trip. It’s not just the distance, but the whole intensity of the thing. We wondered, as much as they love to play games, would The Best Four Days in Gaming be too much? Would they stay up late and be so tired that by day three they’d be little wrecks? Would this somehow make them hate gaming and never want to go near a board game again for the rest of their lives? We had concerns.


Image: Nicole Wakelin

In the end, we decided that we’d make the trip with the girls and just play it by ear. We didn’t plan to attend a lot of events. We didn’t have a crowded schedule of games to play. We didn’t even plan our exact drive route. Instead, we figured we’d see the sights on the way and take it easy once we arrived at the convention.

Lots of people make the drive from New Hampshire to Indianapolis in one day, but we broke it into two, stopping in Buffalo, New York, at the Staybridge Suites so we could have Buffalo wings for dinner. It’s what you have to do when you’re in Buffalo, right? Last year when we made the trip on our own we stopped there, too, and tried Anchor Bar. This year, we went with Duff’s Famous Wings because we were told that these are the places you go to in Buffalo for wings.

Although we liked Anchor Bar, Duff’s won our hearts for their super hot wings and giant bowls of french fries. If you want great hot wings and plenty of fries and giant pitchers of soda at a price that won’t break the bank, then try Duff’s. Also, there are two locations and though you might be tempted to go to the original, the one near the airport is not far and way less crowded with no wait when the other location is packed.


Paula’s Donuts. Omnomnom! Image: Nicole Wakelin

We also found a great stop for breakfast at Paula’s Donuts. This and Duff’s are all within just a few minutes of the hotel which really makes this a great pit stop. Sure, donuts aren’t the healthiest breakfast but I’m choosing to channel my inner Bill Cosby and his famous chocolate cake bit. If you go, try the cheese donut. I know, sounds odd, but think cheese danish. Everyone local suggested we try it, and they did not steer us wrong.

We arrived at GenCon on Wednesday night, the day before the convention started, and the kids had plenty of time to unwind in our room at the JW Marriott. This is where we stay every year. The staff handles the crazy of everyone checking in at once as though it was no big deal. They’re friendly, helpful, always professional, and never frazzled.

There are lots of places to eat in Indy, but the hotel offers a little break from the mobs of gamers. Their restaurant, Osteria Pronto, offers a wonderful breakfast buffet and a selection of upscale meals for dinner. It is on the pricey side, but the food is worth it, and the wait is never as long as you’ll find at less expensive restaurants in the area.


Ready for GenCon! Image: Nicole Wakelin

First thing Thursday, they were ready, and when I say ready, I mean ready like it was Christmas morning! There was no plan to get there the minute it all opened, but the kids wanted to see the crazy.

It was packed, and they were totally fine with the mob. They held our hands through the initial rush through the doors and happily wandered the show floor with us, checking out games and dice and stuffed animals and t-shirts and hats and, it was a lot of stuff. This is a big convention and it hit a record number of attendees this year at nearly 60,000 people, but the crowd was still manageable.

The girls loved every minute. They tried out some demos, had fun looking at the cosplayers, discovered the joy of eating at food trucks, and my oldest narrowly avoided being thrown in jail by a Stormtrooper. Hey, it happens at GenCon.


A little Imperial entanglement. Image: Nicole Wakelin

This was a GenCon unlike any other for me and my husband. We still went out and gamed, but we ended up splitting up with the girls so we could show them each the things they wanted to see. One night, the three of them played a new game at some chairs in the hotel lobby and the girls thought it was the best thing ever.

During GenCon, gamers take up every square inch of space in the local hotels. There are games being played everywhere you look at all hours of the day and night. This small moment, simply playing a game with my husband in the hotel lobby, made them feel like they were a part of it all and it was wonderful.

They even helped us at at our panel, where we recorded an episode of The D6 Generation with a live audience. Let me tell you, if you’re trying to get a room of unruly gamers to behave, nothing works as well as having two little girls give them all sad puppy dog eyes.


Cosplayer: @meaghanslottje Image: Nicole Wakelin

At the end of it all, we were all exhausted, but in the best way possible. We stayed up too late playing games. We walked around all day long hardly stopping to rest for fear of missing something good. And we all ate like we were on vacation.

But what made it perfect was going with the kids. We shared something we love and they loved it, too. It wasn’t the same as going on our own, but in the end, this GenCon was so much better. The last day, my youngest was very sad and said, “That went too fast. I don’t want it to be over.”

I know exactly how she feels.

The post Our Epic Family Road Trip to GenCon appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
UNYQ: The Price of Prosthetic Covers Is Coming Down! Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:00:53 +0000 The next post in a series that GeekMom Judy is writing, about the new options available to amputees when they no longer wish to hide their prosthetic limbs. The design options are incredible, and finally becoming affordable.

The post UNYQ: The Price of Prosthetic Covers Is Coming Down! appeared first on GeekMom.


Photo: UNYQ

I’m back! A few weeks ago I told you about a series I’d be doing for GeekMom, showcasing some of the interesting new options in prosthetic design companies. BeSpoke was the first company I told you about.

BeSpoke makes custom fairings, which are solid coverings that ‘snap’ over the top of prosthetic sockets. With the use of 3D printers, the sky is virtually the limit when it comes to designs. Because each fairing is custom made, BeSpoke products are a bit pricey, although they are definitely worth the money if you can afford it. With most amputees barely able to pay for the basic leg socket to begin with, something that is purely cosmetic doesn’t usually make the priority list.

This is where UNYQ steps in. As it turns out, Eythor Bender, the founder of UNYQ, is friends with Scott Summit, the founder of BeSpoke. They both had very similar visions when it came to changing the look of prosthetic limbs. Making a product that used the exact shape of the sound limb as it’s pattern, then adding artistic designs to fit an individual’s style, was their goal.


Photo: UNYQ

Because Scott Summit and his company have many other projects in development, he found he couldn’t keep up with the fairing side of his business. Instead of suing Bender, when his ideas and designs started to mimic Summit’s, he embraced the new company as a way to get the product to the audience that was waiting for it.


Photo: UNYQ

It just makes sense that Eythor Bender is also the guy who was the president of Ossur, one of the largest prosthetic companies in the world, during the years that the Cheetah running leg came on the market. You’ve seen this bladed “foot” on professional athletes, and now most of my amputee friends who are casual runners have one too. He’s always been inspired to make prosthetic limbs that change the lives of amputees.


Photo: UNYQ

The UNYQ company can do custom fairings, just like BeSpoke. They will scan an amputee’s sound leg, then load the information into their 3D printer. Having both limbs match is more important to many people than you realize. Even if my socket is a crazy color, if it’s the exact shape of my other calf, it will rarely draw attention. Amputees with fairings also report that their pants fit better and feel more like they did before they lost their limb. There is no more gap or empty spot where their calf used to be.

Each client can then design their own fairing, to reflect their interests. They choose from different textures and materials, as well as colors and cut outs. And like BeSpoke, a custom fairing will cost several thousand dollars.

But the UNYQ company wanted their products to be available to as many amputees as possible. They began taking some of their most popular designs and making several copies. They made designs for men, women, and children. They discovered that most amputees just love the idea of having a custom-looking prosthetic cover, even if they didn’t design it themselves.

This brought the price way down, by as much as 50%. Their stock fairings start at $495.00 and generally top out at about a thousand dollars. This option is great for kids. Any basketball-loving kid will love their kid’s basketball design, whether they designed it themselves or not. Any girly girl will love the feminine options right “off the rack”.


Photo: UNYQ

The thing I love about this company, and those like it, is a theme I’ve written about before here on GeekMom. Amputees are no longer embarrassed by their hardware. We no longer feel the need to hide our disability. In the past decade we’ve moved into an era that has empowered us and not only brought us proudly into the public, but encouraged us to go a step further and design an artificial limb that represents who we are.

Until the idea of fairings came along, those of us decorating our sockets used stickers or knit covers. For years I’ve had the Seahawks football team logo laminated on my leg. I proudly wear shorts, even in the winter, so I can show off my leg. But there are times that I’d like to tone it down, just a bit, for dressy occasions especially. Because the socket is laminated, that means I’d have to have a whole new socket made.


Photo: Judy Berna

With fairings, I can click the cover over my existing socket, and wear it whenever I want. Most attach with a few screws. This also means, that as the prices come down in the future, an amputee could technically have an assortment of fairings lining the bottom of their closet, as unique and individual as a shoe collector’s closet.

As crazy as it sounds, it’s a good time to be an amputee. If life circumstances have handed you this specific card, it’s no longer a straight line to depression and hiding out at home. As the public comes to understand and accept amputees in the community, and even become fascinated with our hardware, it changes the future for those of us with limbs that click onto our bodies.

In my next post I’ll tell you about yet another company that is getting into the fairings game, and show you some more inspiring designs they are creating. Until then, try not to be too jealous of those of us with custom limbs. You can always express your design style in the sneakers you choose to wear.

(All photos in gallery belong to UNYQ)

1_1024x1024 10341725_717858394939842_3651137810509307101_n 10414616_717858484939833_61218428939416530_n 10421113_717858308273184_5971889695225586916_n 10461391_717858471606501_5927391202717956201_n 10462600_717858318273183_2001148230882333034_n 10486219_717858278273187_3486347680506014472_n Basketball_KB_DbWR_3_1024x1024 Beauty_KG_WMG_1_1024x1024 Soccer_KB_DbG_3_1024x1024

The post UNYQ: The Price of Prosthetic Covers Is Coming Down! appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0
Subscription Box Review: Jessica Comingore Quarterly Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:00:23 +0000 A peek inside the first Quarterly Co. mailing from designer and lifestyle blogger Jessica Comingore.

The post Subscription Box Review: Jessica Comingore Quarterly appeared first on GeekMom.

A peek at the contents of #JCS01.

A peek at the contents of #JCS01.

Quarterly Co.’s subscription boxes may be a bit on the pricey side, but the contents are always exciting and unpredictable. If I can’t use what a box contains, I almost certainly know someone on my gift list who will appreciate it later. But the real fun of a Quarterly subscription is its sense of personality: Each curator brings his or her unique sensibility to the selection of items.

#JCS01 is Jessica Comingore’s first package for Quarterly Co. Jessica is a designer, lifestyle blogger, and, with over five million followers, a Pinterest superstar. In her Quarterly Co. mailings she promises “artisanal home items for simple and refined living. The products will be clean and sophisticated with a focus on materials and quality, designed to last you a lifetime.” In this first mailing, she spotlights mornings, presenting high-end items she uses to get her day off to a pleasant start.

Cost: $50 + $4.50/shipping. Mailings occur four times a year.


The letter. All Quarterly Co. subscription boxes include a letter from the curator. With some curators—Maud Newton, Joel Johnson, and Mike Monteiro come to mind—the letters are one of the best things about the box, reaching out to the reader with deeply personal stories (like Joel’s tales of his beloved grandma, whose Depression-era background was the inspiration for the items he chose) or darkly comic narratives like the short stories Mike Monteiro built his mailings around. Other curator letters are more straightforward, detailing what is included in the mailing and why. Jessica’s letter is of the latter variety, its tone warm and friendly, walking you through her morning rituals of tea, granola, ablutions, and to-do-listmaking.

Custom Tote Bag. Jessica understates this lovely, large cotton tote in her letter—she mentions it only in passing at the end. Turns out it’s a custom item made just for this Quarterly, featuring a silkscreened print of a watercolor by Jessica herself.  The tote is quite wide with a flat, narrow bottom, and would be great for trips to the farmer’s market or park. Value: Hard to say. I reached out to Quarterly Co. for an approximate value, and they replied: “Hmm, that’s a tough one. For custom and exclusive pieces like this, we like to say priceless.”

Stress Less Tea from Homestead Apothecary. “A blend of organic Rose Petals, Lemon Balm, Skullcap & Peppermint that relaxes your body and mind.” Value: $9.

Ceramic Tumbler by Be Home. Photo:

Ceramic Tumbler by Be Home. Photo:

Ceramic Tumbler from Be Home. This small, elegant teacup is lovely in its simplicity. It’s glazed inside and unglazed (slightly rough to the touch) outside. Mine is an ivory color; I don’t know if other recipients got different colors. I think rather than drink out of it, I’d love to see it filled with flowers, a sweet mini-vase. Value: $18.50.

Activated Charcoal Soap by Elegant Rose Boutique. A large bar with a wonderful citrus scent. This would make such a great gift for someone but I want to keep it! Value: $6.

Natural Bristle Toothbrush by Swissco. Handle color: tortoiseshell. Comes in a plastic travel case. Supposed to be gentler on tooth enamel than synthetic bristles. I’ll be honest; I have a million kids and that means we go through approximately one zillion toothbrushes per year. A high-end brush is beyond my comprehension. But I have a sister who is very much into natural products, and this would make a great stocking stuffer for her. Value: $6.

Small Notebook by Muji. Recycled paper, craft-brown cover, spiral bound, lined, 48 pages. Size A6 (4.1 x 5.8″). I love the small, slim trim size—a perfect fit for a purse. Value: $4.75.

Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencils (2). Possibly my favorite items in the box. These are top-of-the-line pencils and I’ve been curious to try one out for ages. Check out the Amazon reviews on these things: People are bonkers for them. Cool oversized and replaceable eraser, too. And I tested it. It (drumroll) erases, which is more than I can say for most of the pencils we’ve bought lately. Value: approx. $3.30.

Another pencil, gold, brandishing the words POINTING OUT THE OBVIOUS. Not sure whether it, too, is made by Blackwing. Value: Let’s say $1.

Jessica’s family recipe for breakfast granola. A charming addition to the box. Sounds pretty tasty, if perhaps a bit spendy in the ingredients area. Or maybe I’m just factoring in the appetites of my ravenous brood?

Total value of merchandise: Approx. $49 + the custom tote, which I would guess puts it at about $65-70 total. Since nearly all of these items would make great gifts for other people (which always increases a box’s value in my eyes), I’d say Jessica Comingore’s Quarterly is off to a good start. What do you think?

The post Subscription Box Review: Jessica Comingore Quarterly appeared first on GeekMom.

]]> 0