My “Bad Boy” Valentines

wolverine 2
Image By Lilianna Maxwell

This drawing was a present from my daughter: me having tea with Wolverine. But she made me old because it was more “appropriate” since I’m married to her father. I found that hilarious because he’s a fictional character so what’s to be worried about? Only just my total obsession with Wolverine.

And other “bad boy” fictional characters.

Photo on 2-4-14 at 1.37 PM
Image By Rebecca Angel

You are quite sexy
Yet so two-dimensional
Abarai Renji

This would be followed “xoxoxoxoxo” and then I’d be too embarrassed to sign my name—assuming Renji and I would be in the same junior high classroom, forced to exchange valentines. Considering he doesn’t really exist, I suppose I shouldn’t feel any shame admitting that there was a time when I would spend free moments rummaging on deviantart for any and all renditions of my favorite Bleach character, that I became obsessed enough to write a haiku, then a song called “Two-Dimensional Love.” The lyrics are about falling in love with someone fictional, being aware of it, knowing it’s ridiculous, but you just can’t help yourself.

Renji is loud, quick to anger, and jealous. So why do I love him? He’s also fiercely loyal, first to defend others, and when he is gentle—it is a beautiful moment. Renji, Wolverine, Zuko

Lately, my crush is Loki. I remember the first Thor movie; I never mentioned to anyone that I found Loki attractive because his helmet was so silly, his hair was kinda floofy—but I was only trying to talk myself out of yet one more dive into bad-boy fandom. I want to kiss that smirk off his face! I thought I must be the only one.

Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World Loki (Tom Hiddleston) © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Oh, was I wrong.

What’s up with the bad boys, you wonder? When I was chatting with a fellow geekmom, we both admitted to being attracted to fictional characters that we would never want in real life. She married a computer programmer, I married a molecular biologist—both are sweet, soft-spoken men that bake cookies with their children. My husband has never gotten into a physical fight in his entire life, and I don’t see him starting now. The only arguments he gets into are verbal, and never gets above a tolerable volume—he mostly just points out logic and facts. The one time I was majorly insulted in his presence, I defended myself while he silently put a hand on my shoulder.

Sometimes I want to imagine what it would be like to have a hot-tempered manly man. But in my bed, not daily life. Fiction is great that way. Whether it’s a TV show or comic book, I’m introduced to lots of sexy men that would piss me off in the real world. In the second X-Men movie, Wolverine says to Jean Grey, “I could be the ‘good guy’.”

No, you can’t.
And I love you that way.
(from the geeky girl in the corner)

So, ladies, what are your favorite bad boys of geeky fiction?

GeekMom Video Playlist

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 10.13.41 PM
Image By The Slow Mo Guys.

Take a break, sit back, and enjoy some videos.
Crazy photoshopping, and a sky all aglow.
Liquids that don’t stick.
A kitten video pick.
Star Trek parody, and how imagination grows.

Let’s start with something gorgeous. This month, there was a slight chance I could have seen the northern lights with my own eyes in upstate New York. My family and I trekked out around midnight, drove out of the city and waited, watching the sky…nothing. Someday I will see them. For anyone who marvels at the night sky, the movement of clouds, the allure of northern lights, enjoy this:

Superhydrophobic Surface and Magnetic Liquid! Impress your friends with a new vocabulary science word. I’ve never heard of The Slow Mo Guys before this video. Cool stuff.

Many of you have probably seen the Dove video, where a nice-looking girl is made up and photoshopped to look like a fantasy model. Here is a musical artist singing her (very cool) song, while being photoshopped in real-time.

And this just cracked me up: A kitten trying to stalk an iguana’s tail. I don’t watch every kitten video. Really. This one is funny.

And what would this playlist be without a Star Trek musical parody? This one is to a song from Frozen.

Finally, I’ll end with some sweet animation. Did you ever wonder where imaginary friends came from?

Beyoncé Speaks Out on Gender Equality: Let’s Hope People Listen

Superstar Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is speaking out against gender inequality. Photo credit: Flickr user Nat Ch Villa, via CC 2.0 license.
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Photo credit: Flickr user Nat Ch Villa, via CC 2.0 license.

On Monday an essay appeared on the website The Shriver Report that has gotten a lot of media attention. Singer and actress Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (or perhaps you might know her as just Beyoncé) wrote an essay for The Shriver Report’s publication A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink that was released on Sunday through the website.

In the excerpt of the essay available at The Shriver Report, Ms. Knowles-Carter doesn’t mince words: Women are not afforded the same opportunities as men, and there are still pockets of society who still believe that women are, by nature, inferior. She reminds readers that there are more women on earth than men, and that it’s time to stop wasting time waiting for our voices to be heard.

If you’d like to download the full A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink for the Kindle, which includes the full contents of Ms. Knowles-Carter’s essay, it’s free through Wednesday, January 15th, and then will sell for $9.99. Click here to go to the download page.

Hopefully, now that Beyoncé is talking, the world will stop and listen.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Has a Pair of Purr-Fect Holiday Treats

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood will re-air the “Snowflake Day” episode on Christmas Day. Image: PBS Kids.

Late last year, PBS launched the cutest series, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Now the show’s creators have a few holiday treats for fans.

The network just debuted Snowflake Day, a new holiday album with songs from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It specifically has five original songs from the “Snowflake Day” episode, which aired back in November. It’s also worth noting that Daniel and his Neighborhood of Make-Believe friends also have a neighborly little treat for parents: Award-winning jazz singer Matt Dusk performs on the album!

Image: PBS Kids.

The album is currently available as an iTunes download for $4.95. Now is the purr-fect time to get the album, but not just because of the upcoming holiday. PBS is planning to re-air the episode on Christmas Day.

“Snowflake Day” finds the entire Neighborhood celebrating Snowflake Day, with Daniel Tiger preparing for his special role in the annual Snowflake Day Show. Of course, he plays a cute little snowflake and all of his neighbors are busy pitching in to make the show a success. However, as the big day draws closer, Daniel and his friends start to realize that everyone in the Neighborhood is different and special in their own way—just like a snowflake.

Of course, you can also expect a nice holiday message, as well as the cute songs from the album.

“Snowflake Day” will air on PBS on Wednesday, December 25, 2013. Check your local listings for showtimes.

Win 1 of 3 Copies of Marian Call’s New Album Sketchbook

Marian Call Sketchbook cover
Marian Call’s Sketchbook. Image by Marian Call.

On December 1, 2013, Marian Call released her newest album, titled Sketchbook, which, for many reasons, is a splendid album. I am gifting three copies of this album.

If you are unfamiliar with Marian Call’s music, now may be the perfect time to get to know her music. Call’s music is always filled with a lot of heart and multiple layers, but Sketchbook is something extra-special.

Sketchbook isn’t a studio album. Call recorded the album in the houses of people nice enough to give Marian a venue, and a home, during her crazy touring schedule. She recorded them while sick, while hurried, while tired. They are imperfect recordings, which, for me, makes this album one of the best albums I have heard in some time. The reason being is that the sound of the album is more reflective of the raw emotion contained within the music and the lyrics.

Sketchbook contains music that is dark and vulnerable, yet hopeful, songs with dragons, getting back to basics, racing the clock, rain, Iceland, and so much more. The wonderful thing about Marian Call’s music is that her lyrics not only entertain, but they are bound to speak to a wide range of experiences.

Marian Call‘s music has given me many gifts. In fact, I probably would have never met my partner and, subsequently, never would have gotten married, if it didn’t exist. This fact made her performance at my wedding and reception even more special.

In an effort to give others what Call’s music has given to me, on Geeky Pleasures, I am gifting three copies of Sketchbook. Just follow the link to read a mini-review of this wonderful album, and to enter the giveaway. The giveaway ends on December 17, 2013, at 23:59 PST.

If you already own Sketchbook, then tell a friend, or two, about the giveaway, and help them to discover great new music.

A Children’s Music Garden in an Industrial Land

Photo: Karen Burnham

The Gulf Coast of Texas is a blend of beautiful bayou and birding country and industrial wasteland. That was brought home to me as I visited the Baytown Nature Center not too far from my home near Houston. To get there from Highway 146, I drove over the Houston Ship channel (which goes to one of the busier ports in the world) and through a ginormous ExxonMobile chemical refinery (according to Wiki, one of the largest in the United States).

Baytown’s official motto is: “Where Oil and Water Really Do Mix.” It didn’t seem like a promising place to find a children’s playground, frankly.

Image: Google Maps w/ additions by Karen Burnham

But once you enter the nature preserve, all of that changes. Through a trick of geography, the children’s area looks bucolic, not industrial at all. There are tons of birds soaring around and it gets a lovely breeze. You can see the impressive San Jacinto Monument from several vantage points. There’s a lot to love about this park, but I’m going to focus on the Music Garden, and specifically how it captures the spirit of Baytown by using recycled industrial welding canisters for many of its instruments.

Photo: Karen Burnham

The Bayer Music Garden (almost every part of the park is sponsored by businesses or local families) has eight different stations, all of them fundamentally percussive. Four of them use brightly painted welding canisters, cut down to different sizes, to provide an array of drums, bells, or chimes. One series is stuck in the ground and topped with durable, flexible plastic, making a set of bongo drums just at kid height. Another four are strung up with the bottoms cut off and wooden clappers added to make bells.

Photo: Karen Burnham

One of my favorites is two rounded domes set low, each with different patterns cut into them. One looks like whale tails, the other has a star. The way the patterns are cut, the different sections make different tones when struck with the attached rubber mallet. Other stations include welding canisters set on posts that can be spun or whacked, two sets of steel chimes, a large wooden xylophone, and a hollow wooden bench with carved out tonal areas. It’s such a creative idea and use of local material! I’m also impressed with the park’s upkeep and maintenance: when I had been there before, many of the rubber mallets and clappers had gone missing. This time they had all been freshly replaced.

Two caveats: one, the reason the park maintenance can be so good is that the park is fee-based. Unlike most of the free parks in the area, this one has a $3 per person charge, although kids under 12 get in free. We loved the center so much we decided to spring for a $40 family membership, and there’s also a $20 individual annual pass available. Another thing to remember is that Houston has the nickname “The Bayou City,” and bayou is just the fancy French word for swamp. So mosquitoes can be a problem. We went on a rare warm day after a string of cold days, and the little buggers were out for blood. Usually the breeze kept them away, but any instant it died down I was brushing them off my son and he still got bitten several times on his legs and neck. Given that mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue are making a resurgence, it’s probably best to consider bug spray.

Those concerns aside, I haven’t even mentioned the built-up hill and tunnel, the kid-sized animal statues for climbing on, the pirate ship, or the rope spider web. This is a park that offers a lot to explore, but I continue to be especially impressed with the way the Music Garden creatively blends the industrial and scenic characteristics of the area using recycled materials. Something that perhaps other parks can emulate!

Check Out the Ohio State Marching Band’s Hollywood Tribute

I’m a college football GeekMom. This past weekend Ohio State hosted Penn State in football and the halftime show was quite memorable.

(I still can’t believe I’m revering Ohio State this way. Penn State and Ohio State have a rivalry, but not as vicious one as University of Michigan and Ohio State…which you’ll see references to in the above video. You’ll also see the Penn State Marching Blue Band coming off the field in the first 15 seconds playing the end of “Penn State Victory.”)

Riding on the coattails and viral video success of their video game tribute show and the previous week’s Michael Jackson tribute, the band that calls themselves “The Best Damned Band in the Land” (or “TBDBITL” for short) has outdone themselves once again with a Hollywood Blockbuster tribute show. Ohio State’s band has mastered some beautiful formation animations. Yes, I am quite impressed.

Enjoy music from—and amazing band formations of—Superman (where you’ll see him change in the phone booth), Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter (watch Harry catch the Golden Snitch!), Jurassic Park (where a T-Rex will devour a Michigan football player), and Pirates of the Caribbean (where Ohio State’s ship will sink the Michigan ship).

Harry on the broomstick was by far my favorite part! Enjoy!

Bach’s Mobius Strip

Composite image By Rebecca Angel
Composite image By Rebecca Angel

Sometimes when artists visualize music, it detracts from the piece (scenes from Fantasia come to mind…), but this little animation by Jos Leys shows just how brilliant Bach can be.

Check it out with your kids, make a mobius strip, and then listen to the music again on the instrument Bach used to compose it.

The GeekMom Weekly Video Playlist

As summer vacations come to an end, join us for our last weekly video playlist. We hope you have enjoyed the videos we have shared with you this summer. As the year goes on, watch for special video playlists.

This week, our video playlist includes a video that should appeal to music and Star Wars geeks. Richard Grayson shares a variation of Darth Vader’s theme done in the style of Beethoven. We hope you enjoy this video and the others in this week’s list.

The Doubleclicks’ New Video Reminds Us We Have Nothing to Prove


Yes, this!

Watch the video and read the boards. Watch it again to listen to the amazing Doubleclicks. If you listen to it a third time, well… I can’t guarantee that you won’t be humming it for the rest of the day. (My seven-year-old daughter already is.) But you may want to risk the tune getting stuck to spot celebrities like Adam Savage, Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, and many more who joined so many other geeks to make this video.

We have nothing to prove. Just because we are girls, moms, women, does not mean we shouldn’t be interested in the things we obsess over.

Thank you, Doubleclicks. You truly are advocates for geeks everywhere.

Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist

Welcome back to another GeekMom playlist! It’s another great mix with a little something for everyone. There’s a little superhero, British history, video games, and inventive music.

This week’s list can be found here to cure all of your weekend boredom…well, at least an hour of it. If you like the weekly playlist, let us know!

Do you want to see another kid friendly list? Do you want to see a DIY list? What about a summer science list? If there is a theme you want to see, put it in the comments below!

Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist

This week the GeekMom playlist is more of a mix-tape… with a little The Cat in the Hat (or kitten in the ukulele; really you could take your pick) thrown in. Please be careful when viewing the list—the Garfunkel and Oats songs are not entirely child or work appropriate (okay, they are not at all appropriate). But, we hope you will enjoy our list nonetheless.

This week’s playlist and all of our playlists can be found on our YouTube page. Have a great weekend.

Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist

Video Playlist Logo

The GeekMoms are blinding you with science in the video playlist this week!

Do you want science videos? We have the periodic table, animals, music, and a rapping sign language interpreter (because, why not?).

You can find the video with the Popsicle stick experiment and more in this week’s video playlist.

We have several playlists for you on our YouTube channel:

Jazzy World Tour Shows Kids Music and Culture From Around the World

Main Menu Map © The Melody Book
Main Menu Map © The Melody Book

A year ago I wrote about a pre-school music app called A Jazzy Day. The app became a favorite of my son and featured cute cartoon cats who learned all about the instruments in a jazz orchestra by visiting the big band in New York City. A sequel, Jazzy World Tour, has recently been released and my son has been enjoying playing this new offering for the past few weeks.

Jazzy World Tour moves away from the linear story mode of its predecessor and broadens its educational reach. Rather than learning just about musical instruments, Jazzy World Tour introduces geography and cultural studies as players travel between countries from the main menu (a map of the world) and see each nation’s instruments as part of a wider cultural experience. Seven countries are available to explore: The USA, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Egypt, Kenya, and India, and each country has three options to explore with (learn, play and create).

The Play Tab in Egypt and the Create Tab in Australia © The Melody Book
The Play Tab in Egypt and the Create Tab in Australia © The Melody Book

The “learn” tab introduces some basic objects that teach players about the culture of the chosen country. These include a selection of musical instruments, local wildlife, famous buildings, foods, religious deities and more: The India selection includes a lotus flower, the Taj Mahal, a cobra, a sitar and Ganesh. Each of these objects is drawn in a colorful cartoon style. Tapping it brings up a short, simple paragraph explaining what it is with the object’s name spoken aloud, this is very helpful for certain words you may not have encountered before. The “play” tab brings up a single screen in which many of the items found in the “learn” tab are brought together to form a picture of that country along with local music forming a backdrop. Tapping each image animates it. Many of the musical instruments will be represented, so by tapping around the player, can create music from that location. The final tab is “create.” Here players can use animated stickers to create scenes (either still pictures or short animated videos) which can then be added to their “travel book” as they visit the different countries; they can also be instantly shared via social media, emailed or saved to the device. The Travel Book is accessible from the main menu and serves as a sort of scrapbook of the player’s experiences as they travel the world.

Naturally, an app like this cannot go into great depth for each of the countries it includes, however the scenes and items from the different cultures are great for young children only just learning about the way in which places and people differ. The app is bright and engaging, the animations are often funny (my son fell in love with the emu in the Australia section which would run off screen and then slip back on a moment later) and the learning is subtle. In choosing not to have a linear story mode, the app does feel like something is lacking when compared to its narrated predecessor. As it is, the app feels a little disjointed from my perspective. However, my 3-year-old loves jumping from country to country making as much noise as possible.

The Learn Tab in India © The Melody Book
The Learn Tab in India © The Melody Book

Jazzy World Tour is a great addition to your app collection and is great for kids beginning at pre-school age and ranging up to middle school as their reading skills increase and they can move from using the app as a musical sticker book to reading the information about different cultures by themselves. I’d love to see more countries opened up on the map and hope that we might see such an expansion one day as there are so many great cultures left to explore.

A copy of Jazzy World Tour was provided free for this review. It is available on the Apple Store costing $4.99/£2.99 for the complete game, or you can download a “free” trial edition featuring just one country, and buy the rest of the map as individual expansions costing 99c each.

History Geek: 1930s Week

Image By Lilianna Maxwell
Image By Lilianna Maxwell

Swing dancing! The creation of Superman! Adagio for Strings! Radio Plays! Migrant Mother photojournalism! Heath bars! The Wizard of Oz! Monopoly!

The last few weeks I’ve been preparing for and directing a History Through the Creative Arts Camp about America during The Great Depression. Originally history was written down by conquerors who took political power. This legacy continues in history textbooks that think that war and politics are the most important parts of history to study. I disagree. I think history is the whole human experience during a time period. Of course, this makes it tough to design a children’s summer camp that only lasts five days. So I turn to passion.

Rebecca explaining something with lots of hand movements…. Image By Lilianna Maxwell
Tasting historic recipes each day. Image By Rebecca Angel

Passion makes for great teaching. I’m passionate about the creative arts, culture, and social justice. So that’s my focus on history. And when students learn why certain songs were written, when the photographs were taken, how the plays were created, they learn about the power struggles during that time and place. I run the week by having the campers sing, dance, write, eat, sew, and create their way through the time period.

A student talking about their own research. Image By Lilianna Maxwell

I also asked for help. During the week of camp there were other adults bringing their expertise (geeky excitement) to the campers. Plus, the kids themselves taught each other. My daughter ran the camp newspaper, “Typewriter Talk,” with the campers taking turns being reporters for the day. Another student of mine asked if I was covering Europe during the ’30s. I wasn’t getting into the details of the start of World War II with this camp. She asked if she could do a five minute presentation each day because she thought it was really important for everyone to know this stuff. Sure!

Campers taking their parents on a tour of camp. Image By Rebecca Angel

What I wasn’t covering in active learning, I put out on display. In the space I use for camp is a huge wall for push-pins. The other counselors and I fill this wall with all the things we found out, but couldn’t squeeze into the time allotted. Scientific achievements, slang terms, maps about the Dust Bowl (then and what’s happening now!), details on the stock market, the 1936 Olympics, weird advertisements, and lots more. My daughter created a display on photojournalism. My son did one on the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP—he pointed out it sounded like a sound effect). There were puzzles and written activities available during downtime where the answers could be found on The Wall. Whoever completed a sheet got a tiny harmonica (so they could sound like hobos around a campfire…) or candy created during the 1930s.

In the spirit of the '30s, I asked the kids to wear the same clothes everyday (washing was encouraged) and they worked on making outfits for Friday's party. Image By Lilianna Maxwell
Sewing clothes for Friday’s party. Image By Lilianna Maxwell

I’ve run many history camps over the years, but this was the toughest to research; so many aspects made me cry. A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness—and a Trove of Letters—Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression is one example of trying to get to the heart of The Great Depression. I read some of it to the campers. I focused on the positive things of sharing and kindness, but the fact that people were so grateful for so little during this time—is enough to make the tears flow. (I kept myself in check during camp.)

Family history as decorations. Image By Rebecca Angel

I’ll write a few more posts about aspects of camp I think you might enjoy: games, comics, movies, and radio plays. If anything, I encourage everyone to do one of the projects during camp: Research your own family history. The campers presented how their families got through the hard times of the 1930s, and there were some great stories. My own grandfather was a newsboy in the lower East side of NYC.

I could write so much more because everything was so cool! I hope I inspire you to get geeked about history! Here’s a video of the swing dancing each day:

Moshi Audio Mythro Earbuds: Finally Earbuds For Small Ears

Grey Mythro earbuds by Moshi Audio. Image used with permission.
Grey Mythro earbuds by Moshi Audio. Image used with permission.

I haven’t been serious about earphones since studying broadcast production in college. I haven’t had to. Most of the time, we listen to music or audio books on the computer or in the car and everyone listens. But since tablets and smart phones are commonplace now, even in our house, we have also been looking at earphones that work with all our devices. Within days of my husband wearing out his second pair of earbuds, Moshi Audio provided a review sample of their new Mythro earbuds. The earbuds are a personal headset with a built-in mic that can be used with phones and other devices.

It is difficult for me to find earbuds that work in my ears. Most fall out because my ears are so tiny. For example, the standard iPod buds don’t even fit in my ears at all. I have used my kid’s earbuds in the past because they came with an extra small bud tip, but I can’t use them on a continual basis or he would complain. The Moshi earbuds are the first earbuds I have found that actually stay in my ears.

Specs for the Moshi Audio Mythro earbuds.
Specs for the Moshi Audio Mythro earbuds.

Size: The sizes of earbud attachment are fairly standard to other earbuds. As usual, I use the smallest size at 11.1 mm. The medium is 12.3 mm and the large is 13.6 mm.

Shape: The shape is what makes these earbuds unique. The back end of the piece that fits in your ear is angled to have a more snug fit in the ear. An added bonus to the angle of the ear pieces is that you don’t have to look at the buds to see which one goes in which ear, you can do it by feel. Because of the shape, this is the first set of earbuds that I can wear while exercising and not have to worry about them falling out.

Mic:  I haven’t received any complaints while using it for phone conversations, even in the car.

Durability: I use these all day. They are plugged into my phone in the car in case I get a phone call, and I use them in my phone at night to listen to audio books while going to sleep. I also use them during the day with my computer while I am writing to cut out the outside noise.  I have been in this routine for over two months. My last three sets of earbuds under these same conditions broke within the two month time frame, but the Mythro earbuds have held up just fine.

Fullscreen capture 652013 24440 PM

The Moshi Audio Mythro earbuds have been wonderful. I have nothing bad to say about them. They fit, they are comfortable, affordable, sound great, and have a nifty little strip that holds the chord in a bundle when they aren’t being used.  If they break I will definitely get another pair. They can be purchased from the Moshi website or Amazon for $30.

*A pair of earbuds were provided for the review*

Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist



Summer vacation is here! Or, it is looming in the not-so-distant future. Either way, kids are getting edgy and are requesting video suggestions to keep them entertained for a few minutes. So, this week’s video playlist features videos the GeekMom writers’ kids enjoy.

GeekMom Video Playlist for the week of June 6. Videos include a singing bird, Lego cartoons, music, NASA engineering, how to make a rocket, and Pokémon Minecraft. All of these videos are for the kids.
GeekMom Video Playlist for the week of June 6. Videos include a singing bird, Lego cartoons, music, NASA engineering, how to make a rocket, and Pokémon Minecraft. All of these videos are for the kids.

This week’s playlist and all of the previous weeks can be found on our YouTube channel. You can also find an up-to-date playlist of all of the GeekMom’s Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap Tea Party episodes.

Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist


Ballads, brains, board games, and booze are on the menu this week on our weekly video playlist. As usual, the weekly playlist is brought to you in feature-film length as a gift to you for weekend viewing. Here is a sampling of videos from this week’s playlist.

A Halo medley on violin and piano was somehow not what I was expecting when I found this video, but the production value and musicianship are both excellent.

Continue reading Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist

Geeks, Music, and Lyrics

Image by Keith (TheBigTog)
Image by Keith (TheBigTog)

(This was my very first post on GeekMom waaaay back when. It eventually ended up on Wired as well. I’m still writing and performing all my geeky songs!)

Take, take, take me away.
I’ll drink whatever you put before me.
In this world I can’t stay.
Only the faerie can cure me.

“Mortal Slave” by Camelot’s Destruction

As a singer/songwriter, I’ve been told by other musicians to never share your inspiration. Let the audience decide what the songs are about. I agree for songs about love and life, experiences the listener can put themselves into. But what about a song about the perils of having an evil wizard as an ex-boyfriend? Or one about creating a clone to take over your life while you have outer-space adventures? Those songs need explaining.

Several years ago a friend emailed me his really cool dream. I turned it into the start of an urban fantasy novel. It still languishes on my hard drive. But this isn’t about failure, instead, that never-finished book sparked a whole new facet of my musical life.

In the novel-that-will-never-be, there is a teen girl who I wanted to be wearing a band t-shirt. Considering her character’s love of rebellion, I decided this band should be from the forbidden realm of Dreamtown. But what would the band be called? Something dark, but over the top, like most band names I make fun of. I came up with Camelot’s Destruction.

Continue reading Geeks, Music, and Lyrics

Prom Night Memories: The Good, the Bad, and Tears for Fears

Rebecca Angel with high hopes on prom night.

This post was published on the original GeekMom site, then published again on Wired, and now it’s back here! I can’t get enough of these stories, so please add your own!

Do geeks go to prom? In fiction, it depends on the gender. Geek guys rarely go, unless they are the comic relief. Geek girls can often have the “Cinderella” dream happen and become the belle of the ball.

But that’s fiction. What about in real life?

I recently shared my prom story with the community of geekmoms and a few dared to tell about their own:

I asked the guy I liked to my prom, even though he was a junior, and my friends thought I was weird. However, I was convinced he would ask me to be his girlfriend that night…then hoped it would happen the next day. We went to NYC to see Nine Inch Nails, but couldn’t get in the club because we weren’t 21 (even though we paid for the tickets). I was so disappointed. He didn’t ask me to be his girlfriend at all that weekend, and I found out later that was because he already had a girlfriend, but thought it was fun to lead me on anyway. Damn, younger men! – ME

Continue reading Prom Night Memories: The Good, the Bad, and Tears for Fears

Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist


This week, the GeekMoms were watching record-breaking videos, gaming videos and more. To save you from losing time searching for the geeky videos from this week, these videos and several others (along with the playlist from last week) can be found on the GeekMom YouTube channel. Here are a couple of the featured videos from the playlist.

Kay pointed out this video which holds the Guinness World Records™ record for smallest movie. The pixels are individual atoms. The video annotation includes a link to an explanation of how it was made.

Continue reading Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist

“Tesla” by They Might Be Giants is Educational and Awesome

“Tesla” is featured on the band’s 16th studio album, “Nanobots.” Image: They Might Be Giants/YouTube.

They Might Be Giants are still rocking the science theme with Nanobots, the group’s 16th studio album. It has a total of 25 songs, but only one of them pays homage to the great Nikola Tesla.

Tesla” is definitely not my favorite TMBG video, but the subject matter and lyrics are fantastic. John Flansburgh and John Linnell run through some of Tesla’s achievements and then ask the burning question, “How can that knowledge be tamed?”

Yeah, don’t expect an answer, but the newly posted video for “Tesla” is certainly worth two minutes of your time. Check it out below.

Nanobots is available now.

Commander Chris Hadfield Sings Space Oddity

As “a last glimpse of the World,” Commander Chris Hadfield recorded a revised version of “Space Oddity” by David Bowie on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Watching it put something in my eye. That’s all I have to say about that.

After spending five months on board the ISS, and becoming the first Canadian Commander of the ISS in March,  Commander Hadfield is due to return tomorrow after a very successful mission.

My Panic Attack Survival Kit

Superman Quote / Image: Dakster Sullivan
Image: Dakster Sullivan

I suffer daily with anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve tried medication in the past and it just didn’t work for me. So, when I need something to bring me back down to earth, I look to various things to help me. Here’s a list of a few of the things I use to bring me back and get me through the day.

Dark Pug Rises \ Image: Chubbs the Wampug
Dark Pug Rises \ Image: Chubbs the Wampug

Chubbs the Wampug – I don’t have a dog, so I live vicariously through Chubbs the Wampug. Her posts range from birthday wishes to funny captions on her own photos. On more than one bad day, my first thought has been to head over to see what her latest funny picture is. She hasn’t let me down yet.

Ben 10 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – I keep episodes of both on my iPod, so when I’m at work and have to get away, they are just a click away. My favorite episode so far has been Ben 10 – Generator Rex: Heroes United and TMNT episodes Metal Head and Turtle Temper. Each episode is full of laughs and easily distracts me from whatever is bugging me.

Continue reading My Panic Attack Survival Kit

Paul Guzzone is “Chasing the Moon” – Some New Tunes For Your iPod.

Album Cover Art  by Pamela Prichett
Illustration by Pam Pritchett
Graphic Design by 40N47 Design, Inc.

As we wander through the years of life sometimes we collect some pretty magical friends along the way. Paul Guzzone is one of the people on my list. I first told you about him back in 2011. He is a talented musician in his own right and just happens to play bass and do some producing for the Bacon Brothers Band. Yeah, the same Bacon guy who creeps you out on The Following each week and his not so creepy brother.

For years I’ve enjoyed meeting up with Paul at their concerts and hanging out with him after the guitars are packed away. He and his wife, Mary Ellen, are those hidden treasures who live and work in New York, with very little media fanfare. Their company, Triple Z Music does mind blowing musical backgrounds for TV commercials, corporate events, and many other venues.

Paul Guzzone Photo: Paul Sunday Photography
Paul Guzzone
Photo: Paul Sunday Photography

I was thrilled to find out that Paul was releasing his own album. My son and I dove into it the same afternoon it showed up in my mailbox. It’s called “Chasing the Moon” and the title track is one of our favorites. We were on our way to my son’s weekly drum lessons so of course Sam picked out all the cool rhythms and pounded them out on my poor dashboard. But it was hard not to get sucked into these songs.

Paul describes it as “soundscape meets reggae-infused pop, contemporary gives way to retro and fantasy induces romance”. I think that is a pretty good description. These songs are all about love, the loss of love, and the security of love when it all goes right. How can you not love lyrics like

“And I will carry you, when your legs are weary
I will lift you up when the water’s high
I will hold you close when the wind is howling
When the road is long, I will carry you home.”

The melodies are sometimes sweet and tender, sometimes jumpy and Caribbean  Sam actually asked me to play it again on the way home from his drum lesson and I smiled when I saw him moving along to the tunes. He said it was his version of ‘interpretive dance’. I don’t care what he calls it. I love an album I can share and enjoy with my son.

I kept having the feeling that this would be a great album to listen to while I was making dinner, or puttering around the house. It makes great driving music. Some day soon, when the winter season decides to leave Colorado, I will sit on my back porch and soak up the sun with these songs in my ears. It’s relaxing and fun at the same time.

You can listen to a sample of “I Will Carry You” on Paul’s website. Or sample each of his tracks on this page. If you are a lyric lover, like I am, here are the words to all 7 of his songs.

Move over Bacon Brothers tracks, there’s a new playlist hitting the ipod today. And it’s a gem.

LG Tone+ HBS-730: Where Have You Been All My Life?

LG Tone + Headphones  Image: LG
LG Tone+ HBS-730 Headphones.  Image: LG

I heard about the LG Tone+ through a friend at work who said it was the best pair of headphones they’d ever owned. Now, I’ve tried out more than my fair share of headphones, and while most have worked out, none of them had a wow factor. I had a hard time believing that these would be the headphones to change that, so when LG sent them to me, I had to put them through the paces and then some.

My first task was to charge them up, which took about an hour and a half. Not bad considering some of the ones I’ve had in the past took around two hours or more.

The next thing I did was pair it with my iPhone 5 (which was as easy as 1…2…3) and then take them for a test drive. I’m not allowed to wear headphones in my ears at work, so instead I let them sit around my neck with my music on high and when I received a phone call, I put one of the ear pieces in. The magnets that keep the ear pieces in place are just the right strength to keep them in place and easy to pull when you want to wear the ear piece.

I did this for about three days for 8 hours a day (not including stand by time) before the low battery alert started to kick in. The low battery alert plays once every two minutes until you either turn them off or put them on the charger. My iPhone also showed the battery level of the headset next to the battery indicator for my phone, which was a major plus. I personally never had to check the battery status, but it’s easily done by pressing the volume down button for one second and listening to the audible battery indictor.

Something I really like about this headset is its simplicity. Instead of hearing a series of beeps that you have to memorize and decode, the headset speaks to you instead. If your battery is low, there’s no fast beep or slow beep to listen for. It simply tells you “battery low”.

LG Tone+ Buttons Close-up  Image: Dakster Sullivan
LG Tone+ Buttons Close-up. On the left are the playback buttons and to the right are the phone call buttons. Image: Dakster Sullivan

The buttons are also separated on the head set so you don’t have to remember if the top button is for calls or the bottom button is for playback. Playback buttons are on the right and phone call buttons are on the left. The call button also has an LED indicator light that blinks blue when in use and red when you have a call, the battery is low, or the headset is charging.

Unlike my other Bluetooth devices, such as the one in my car, I never once got a complaint from the person on the other end of the call. Most people that I talked to said they didn’t realize I was talking on a Bluetooth headset.

I only had one serious problem with this headset, and that was when I would work out and dance to my music. The headphones didn’t like staying put with all the motion, and more than once bounced off my neck. I found a way around this by wrapping my tank top around them or placing them under my sports bra strap.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the LG Tone+ and so far there hasn’t been a day since I received them that I haven’t used them. A major plus was if I only used them while at work, they easily lasted for more than three days. So, if you’re looking for a reliable Bluetooth headset for music or hands free calling, I highly recommend you give these a shot. Retailed at $79.99 (available for $52 right now on Amazon) you can’t beat them.

In exchange for my time and efforts in  reporting my opinion within this blog, I received a free review sample. Even though I receive this benefit, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.

This Week With the GeekMoms

Dakster Sullivan is geeking it out this weekend at Otronicon with her fellow 501st and Rebel Legion troopers. It’s her third year attending the event, and it’s sure to be a blast. On top of that, she is getting her new costume ready for its debut at Megacon in March. She can’t wait to show it off to everyone and get their reactions.

Laura is experiencing the short-lived but blissful euphoria that comes with getting over a nasty cold. She is using her newly recovered lung power to sing made-up songs with bizarre lyrics, despite her family’s threats to make stealth recordings. Today’s compositions include ditties about deadline purgatory, refrigerator smells, and movie piracy.

Rebecca Angel is currently listening to her daughter play the drums in her basement with some friends in a “band.” This is news since her daughter has only done musical things with her mom and other family members. She’s branching out! Other than that, Rebecca is very excited to see Potted Potter with her sister this weekend.

Rachel Cericola is desperately clinging to her New Year’s resolutions by continuing to exercise on a regular basis. She’s also trying to incorporate more local foods into her daily diet and is thrilled to be hitting up the farmer’s market this weekend. Of course, all of that may be sabotaged by a birthday party on Sunday. Her mother-in-law isn’t known for her healthy choices!

Melissa Wiley is binge-reading the novels of Muriel Spark.

Kathy Ceceri is busy putting together samples of projects from the Geek Mom book and her Robotics activity book for an appearance at the Barnes & Noble in Saratoga Springs, NY on Monday, January 21. The high school NASA club will also be there, showing off their rocketry projects, so if you’re in the area, come say hi!

6 Reasons Love Actually Is the New Christmas Classic, Even for Geeks

Love Actually promotional poster with yes, Colin Firth. Image copyright Universal Pictures, 2003.

“Do you know it’s been almost ten years since this movie came out?” I asked my husband. I’d finally procured Love Actually through Redbox, in spite of trying every on-demand video service known to man and failing miserably, and now our holidays were complete. You’d think that this time of year, Netflix and Hulu and Zune would be tripping over themselves to procure the rights. But apparently not. Even a film that boasts more celebrated actors than a night at the BAFTAs apparently can’t wrangle it up–and even in spite of the fact that half of my social media friends seem to be looking for this movie and anticipating it as fervently as I am. But regardless. We watched the film last night, and I realized how it’s become a tradition in our family. Naturally, I wondered why that’s the case. And lo! This post was born.

For the uninitiated, Love Actually is a 2003 British film starring a bevy of English heavyweight actors (Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth, just to name a few). It’s a movie that follows many pairs of people, and their families, through the five weeks leading up to Christmas, and even features Martin Freeman (currently sporting furry feet as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit movie) as a rather sweet body double for adult film scenes. While the people range from the Prime Minister himself (played by Hugh Grant) to a novelist (Colin Firth) and a graphic designer (Laura Linney), their lives at first don’t seem connected, but eventually come together. Not to mention, there’s an adorable little kid who you might now recognize as the voice of Phineas and Ferb‘s own Ferb Fletcher (and soon-to-be Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones), Thomas Sangster.

The relationships in the film; there is nothing geekier than a flowchart. Image by WCityMike, public domain via Wikipedia. Click for larger version.

Which is all to say if you haven’t seen the movie, and I can’t imagine that you haven’t, well, this will be full of spoilers. But considering this movie is ten years out now, I’d say we’re in fair territory.

So here’s a few thoughts as to why Love Actually may just be one of the best holiday films out there, and perfect for those who might be tired of the classics and prefer their holiday fare with a little more wit and authenticity.

It’s not really about Christmas. Okay, so it’s technically about Christmas. But there isn’t an overwhelming, over your head gravity about it. It would still be a good movie without the Christmas stuff, which you really can’t say for about 94% of what passes as holiday fare these days. Sure, the main message that comes across is that Christmastime is about love, honesty, and openness. The characters manage this to a variety of levels of success, from get-you-in-the-heart romance to the lingering questions left by Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman’s married couple (more on that later). Christmas is the setting; it’s got that holiday warmth, but there isn’t any sappiness to the point of eye-rolling or religious proselytization (or cute animals or horrible CGI). Plus there’s no Santa business. It’s about what people actually do on the holidays without banging you over the head with Christmas spirit.

It’s about real people. Granted, they’re fictional characters portrayed by actors. But save a cameo by Claudia Schiffer, the majority of the actors aren’t exactly runway ready, and all the characters have a real sense of authenticity about them. The wardrobe, the lighting, the camera angles–these work to bring a further sense of humanity to the actors. You feel for Natalie (played by Martine McCutcheon) because while she’s a gorgeous woman, and certainly catches the eye of Grant’s PM, she’s not classically so. People call her chubby (which is rather silly–my one gripe with the film is that the screenwriter often relies on fat jokes, to ill effect). She’s awkward and silly, she isn’t well-spoken, she has a bit of a potty mouth. She’s from the bad side of town. But you like her right off the bat. Same for Thompson’s character, who’s discovers her husband’s flirtations with a gorgeous office aid. She covers up–smothers–her fury and betrayal in front of her kids at the flip of a switch, because that’s what must be done. There is hardly any drama, it’s all kept behind her guise in order to preserve herself and her kids. Sure, this movie never won Oscars. But some of the performances are so real, they’re heartbreaking.

It’s got a (mostly) amazing soundtrack. Mostly. There are a few questionable choices in there. But any film that starts with a live rendition of “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles and ends with “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys is clearly doing something right. So, yes, you have to endure “All I Want For Christmas” a few times, and certainly the “Christmas Is All Around” retooling of the classic Troggs song gets a little old by the end. But the scene where Hugh Grant dances through his Downing Street to “Jump (For My Love)” by the Pointer Sisters is nothing short of iconic. Plus you get a brilliant performance by Thomson during “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell, a beautiful moment between Linney and her Brazillian hunk with Nora Jones’ rendition of “Turn Me On” and that staple of the early aughts, “Here With Me” by Dido. What results is a soundtrack with Christmas selections, but not burdened down with the Jingle Bell Rock, y’know?

It doesn’t tie everything up in a pretty bow. Sure, a good chunk of the stories are ended nicely. People get together, take risks. But even in the epilogue we see that things don’t always end up perfectly. Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson are still on the rocks. There’s no sign of Laura Linney’s character who, in spite of catching the eye of Karl, the office stud, can’t separate herself from her mentally ill brother in order to have a relationship. Because, as many of us are well aware, Christmastime and the holidays can sometimes get you through tough things but there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. It’s a romantic comedy that’s aware of the tropes of the genre but doesn’t exploit them to the point of disbelief. You’re left wondering where these characters’ lives will go, and there’s a certain sense of kinship at the movie’s end, without much holiness.

It’s got Colin Firth. While I feel this is self-explanatory, I’ll break it down for you a little more. I probably don’t have to tell you that Colin Firth has a certain special place in the hearts of many a GeekMom out there. Most of us can trace it back to the BBC Pride and Prejudice series from the 90s. But clearly there’s a Firth factor in this movie, even moreso than others I’ve seen. What do I mean, exactly? Well, his is the only narrative aside from Bill Nighy’s that’s essentially cut off from the rest of the film. He’s a writer (swoon) whose girlfriend cheats on him with his brother while he’s away at the wedding of his friends (Kiera Knightly and Chiwetel Ejiofor). He only sees them at the beginning and end of the film, while he’s away for the rest of it in France. Essentially he’s got his own separate story going on that, yes, feels a bit forced at the end. Except he’s Colin Firth. And clearly the producers were well aware that so long as he was in the film, it would be a huge benefit. So, yes. That is all ye need to know.

It’s one of the geekiest gateway films out there. Sure, there tends to be a concentration of actors appearing in geeky films when you get to the UK. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a movie that includes actors from Harry Potter (Rickman, Thompson, and Bill Nighy), Pirates of the Caribbean (Knightley and Nighy), The Hobbit (Martin Freeman), Serenity (Chiwetel Eljofor), Game of Thrones/Phineas and Ferb/Dr. Who (Thomas Sangster), X-Men: First Class (January Jones), the Narnia films (Liam Neeson), Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson, Firth, and screenwriter/director Richard Curtis), and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Freeman, Rickman, and Nighy). And really, that’s just scratching the surface.

More than anything, Love Actually is a movie by people who get it. That get that the holidays are about love and loss and memories. It’s about new beginnings and it’s about endings. It’s about family and second chances, and sometimes it’s about the same old, same old. It’s love, in its many, many forms, lighting the way through the coldest season.

The Weekly, Geekly Rewind – September 25, 2012

Image by: NASA, public domain

First off, there were some special birthdays this past weekend, so be sure to check out our posts on Michael Faraday and Frodo and Bilbo’s Birthdays!

Pirate Party:

Last week the scurvy wenches aboard the GeekMom ship took time to praise their most favorite piratical observances including art, books, music, maps, and recipes!

Time and Design:

Spoonflower is holding a favorite fabric contest featuring super-awesome earth science patterns! Check it out here and vote for your favorites!

Some of us are severely addled by procrastination, even going so far as to read about overcoming procrastination on the interwebz rather than doing tasks that need to be done. If that’s you, check out this short video to learn the Pomodoro Technique:

Would you trust Times New Roman over Comic Sans? Apparently some fonts are considered more trustworthy than others.

Media and Music:

Black Nerd rants about convention creepers.

Rolling Stone shares 24 albums you can’t miss this fall.

Quite a few of us are excited about the new Mumford & Sons album. Check out Rolling Stone’s review.

Science and Astronomy:

Tired of this Earth? European astronomers have found a new “super” Earth only 49 light years away. Pack your bags!

Have you read the recent research linking blood sugar surges, inflammation, even infection to serious conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and autism? Here’s a quick overview of this potentially revolutionary information. 

BBC gives us a some beautiful visuals of species close to extinction.

Kids and Education:

Duct tape + world history = fun. Two homeschooled teens have created a site dedicated to duct tape (historical) warfare. Their e-books detail how to make projects like “armored” gloves, spears, and shields out of this all purpose material. 

As your little ones get further into the school year, you might be wondering what you can do as a parent to build their reading and writing skills. Here, some suggestions from the GeekMoms.  

You'll Love The Soul By Ludacris SL300 Noise Canceling Headphones

Soul SL300 by Ludacris, Image: Soul

Yes, it’s another pair of celebrity endorsed headphones, but put them on, turn up them up, and you won’t care who’s name is on the box because it’s all about the sound. The Soul SL300 headphones deliver fantastic sound and comfort, optional noise cancellation and a hard-shell case so you can take them anywhere.

Continue reading You'll Love The Soul By Ludacris SL300 Noise Canceling Headphones