The Hello Kitty craze is global, from breathtaking fashion statements to almost any piece of merchandise you can think of. And it all started in March 1975 with a simple coin purse that cost less than a dollar.
At the new Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty now at the EMP Museum in Seattle, you can get a look at one of those rare coin purses, along with more than 500 unique pieces from Sanrio on display. The traveling exhibit is fascinating for anyone who has ever owned their own piece of Hello Kitty merchandise or been intrigued by her rise to pop culture stardom over the past 40 years.
If you’ve been to any of the major comic conventions across the country, chances are you’ve spotted the Espionage Cosmetics booth stocked with makeup inspired by various geeky passions. After successfully running two Kickstarter campaigns for nerdy nail wraps, Espionage has moved to the next level with two new endeavors: a subscription box service and and a brick and mortar storefront, Geek Boutique.
The subscription box, Nerd Makeup, is currently in beta testing and not yet ready for public signup. The box, however, inspired the opening of the retail storefront. In an interview with FanBolt, Espionage Cosmetics CEO Jaimie Cordero explains:
So the brick and mortar store is half production for the subscription boxes and the other portion is what everyone has been begging us to do, which is, “Where can I come and pick up the stuff in person? Where can your artists show me how to use these colors if I can’t make it to a convention, if I can’t get tickets, if I don’t have time? Where can I do that?” That’s what we’re starting here.
Cordero promises a storefront version of Artist Alley, and the new store delivers. Featuring not only your favorite nail wrap designs and geek-inspired makeup collections, at the grand opening, products from Geeky Hostess, Optimystical Studios, Throwboy, and more were on hand.
If you are coming to the Seattle-Tacoma area any time soon and you want to stock up on nail wraps and more, head to 707 Pacific Avenue in Tacoma to visit the new, gloriously geeky Geek Boutique.
Seattle residents have known and loved the most unique building in the city, the Experience Music Project Museum, for a long time. Neighbors with the Space Needle and Pacific Science Center in the heart of Seattle, the EMP is celebrating its 15th birthday this week, and there’s never been a better time to visit.
This is a place that should go on any geek’s bucket list. Where else can you be a rock star, play a great collection of indie video games, and see the original costumes worn by the actors in Star Wars, a Dalek used on Doctor Who, Inigo Montoya’s sword, and many, many more memorable items from pop culture?
EMP Museum also highlights the Seattle music scene, with exhibits featuring Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, and a continued emphasis on up and coming artists in the city.
Local band Bleachbear kicked off this week’s EMP Birthday Bash, an open house celebrating 15 years by inviting all Seattle residents in for free. Seattle Seahawks’ SeaGals, Harry Potter, a Dalek, the TARDIS, Darth Vader, and more were also in attendance, highlighting the museum’s dedication to the culture of Seattle. “You have no idea what a big Star Wars fan I am,” I overheard one of the SeaGals say, proving that even Seattle’s pro football cheerleaders are nerds at heart.
A new exhibit opened recently as well, “The Animation of Chuck Jones,” with original artwork from animated favorites like “Duck Amuck,” Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
If your kids have ever wondered how cartoons are made, be sure to spend time in this exhibit to show them the brilliance and influence of Chuck Jones.
If you ever find yourself in Seattle, make time to visit the EMP Museum. You won’t find a better place to share some of your favorite characters from fantasy and science fiction with your kids, and feel like a kid again yourself.
GeekMom was invited to attend the EMP Birthday Bash.
Youth coming together to make the world a better place is the global movement of our time—We Day is this movement.
An annual series of stadium-sized events, We Day brings together world-renowned speakers and performers—from Malala Yousafzai and Martin Sheen to Demi Lovato—with tens of thousands of youth to kick-start a year of action through We Act. You can’t buy a ticket to We Day—you earn it by taking on one local and one global action.
More than a one-day event, We Day is connected to the year-long We Act program, which offers educational resources and campaigns to help young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained action. We Day and We Act are cause inclusive, empowering young people to find their passion and create the change they want to see. By taking action on one local and one global cause, students are equipped with the tools to succeed academically, in the workplace and as active citizens.
Together, We Day and We Act are a blueprint for helping the next generation of global citizens.
With Microsoft as a major sponsor and founded by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, We Day has evolved over time, starting with a program called Free the Children and turning into a movement with many thousands of participants who work hard to bring good to others. The website is filled with case studies, school group profiles, and plenty of data about participation and how much difference the kids have made.
Seattle’s 2015 We Day event was magnificent. Filled with alternating music groups and motivational speakers, and sprinkled with other people who are popular with today’s youth, the 16,000 students at the event were entertained for hours. Coming from all over the state of Washington, these kids were pumped and happy and engaged with the show. But you didn’t have to be a middle or high school student to get into it. I was quite moved by the whole thing as well.
The day’s event was broken up into four segments, each a “period” in school: Economic Empowerment, Technological Empowerment, Social Empowerment, and Educational Empowerment. Each section focused on a different aspect of involvement, and the underlying message was to get involved in your community, have faith in yourself and your abilities, and make a difference. A summary of the day was conveniently put into a recap on the We Day website.
I do admit to not knowing who many of the speakers and performers were, but there were a few whom I was excited to hear from, and then some that were pleasant surprises as well.
The person I was most looking forward to seeing was Dr. Mae Jemison, who they describe as “the first woman of color in space, physician, scientist, engineer, explorer, and futurist.” She did not disappoint. “We need collective ambition,” she said. We need to work on something together. She imparted much wisdom to the youth present, including messages such as: Keep your confidence. Don’t let others limit you. Our personal stories and perspectives are important. She also said that it is important to have a sense of humor and that daring makes a difference. She encouraged students to do what they knew was right that would move the world forward. Also, she mentioned her close involvement in the 100 Year Starship program, which is working on the future of interstellar travel.
A group of four young Ugandan women spoke about an app that they created to test for sickle cell anemia using just a smart phone. This will make a huge difference in healthcare in their country, and around the world. The four women did all the coding and development for the app themselves, and they did very well in last year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup programming competition as Team AfriGals.
Allstate insurance was another one of the sponsors, and Tom Wilson, their Chairman and CEO, spoke briefly. What he said struck me particularly. “Having diminished expectations is a disease,” he said. I agree with him. My feeling is, if you expect little from yourself, you won’t accomplish very much. If you expect little from your children, your coworkers, and people around you, they won’t be motivated to accomplish their goals, or perhaps even set goals in the first place. Have high expectations. But keep things positive. Make available the tools, skills, and materials needed for those around you to work toward their goals.
Laila Ali spoke. Four-time boxing world champion, TV host, author, fitness and wellness expert, and daughter of Muhammad Ali, she gave an awesome speech. As a kid, she fought for those who were being bullied. Literally. She spoke at length about how her father’s own imperfections inspired her to follow the path she did. She said that if you know who you are and what you stand for, you can do anything.
There were plenty of musicians there as well, including Nashville‘s Lennon & Maisy, indie folk band The Head and the Heart, and British R&B and rapping duo, Bars and Melody.
Near the end of the event, the crowd started going wild. Not on the program but showing up on stage nonetheless was Macklemore, who is apparently a great favorite of the kids present, plus he is a local to Seattle. He didn’t say many words, but the desired effect was achieved. The crowd was thrilled. His only other purpose was to introduce Pete Carroll, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Mr. Carroll spoke for a while, and more than just about his team. He was actually pivotal in bringing We Day to Seattle, working closely with the Kielburger brothers to bring their good work from Canada to the United States. Mr. Carroll encouraged the kids present to recognize and celebrate the differences of those around us.
This post is sponsored by Earth to Echo, in movie theaters July 2, 2014.
If you live in Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York City and you’re looking for something fun to do on a summer day, you’re in luck! Take part in the Earth to Echo Geocache Adventure for a spectacular trip around your city, as you use your smartphone to unlock clues at each step of the journey. Not only will you be treated to scenes from the upcoming film Earth to Echo, you and your kids might even uncover amazing new places in a city you thought you knew everything about.
A family flick in the same vein as The Goonies and E.T., Earth to Echo follows a band of plucky kids as they take their own incredible journey to help a new friend. Your kids will love going on a similar adventure, as you solve the mysteries and answer questions at each stop on your geocache hunt.
Our daughter had a blast searching for each clue at four different stops, as we raced around Seattle. We even discovered landmarks that we didn’t know existed in the middle of the city. A trip to the Space Needle is a must almost any time you’re visiting downtown Seattle, but a rocket ship in the middle of the city? A space travel supply store? Who knew the Emerald City housed these hidden gems?
But you don’t have to just take my word for it. Here’s a look at our family geocache adventure below, starring a five-year-old so excited, the GoPro could barely keep up with her.
We weren’t the only ones unlocking the mysteries of the Earth to Echo adventure that day; at our final stop at the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, we ran into another enthusiastic couple who had just finished their own trek across town.
If you’ve been looking for just the right opportunity to get into geocaching, this is it! Geocaching is a pastime that you and your family can easily get hooked on together, and this adventure is a fantastic place to start. Here’s how!
Calling all adventure seekers! EARTH TO ECHO opens in theaters on July 2nd — but you can prepare for the journey in the meantime with the brand new Geocaching EARTH TO ECHO Adventure! Geocaching is a family-friendly activity, where adventure seekers can use an app or GPS on their mobile devices to search for cleverly hidden containers placed in nearby neighborhoods.
Go on a Geocaching adventure in your city with Earth To Echo! Play to unlock the mystery today.
GeekGirlCon returned to Seattle on October 19-20, and this year’s event was completely sold out as over 6,000 attendees celebrated geeky gals.
GeekGirlCon is a convention unlike any other. This year, attendees were treated to not only family-friendly activities like the DIY Science Zone, but also one-of-a-kind vendors, panels with some of the comic book industry’s brightest talents, concerts featuring artists like Marian Call and The Doubleclicks, an area called GeekGirlConnections to give attendees the chance to network with companies like BioWare… the list goes on and on.
Here are a few photos from the convention, including memorable cosplay, fascinating panels, and the indomitable Carol Corps.
I traveled to Seattle last week with my sons; one was there to attend BrickCon, the other to teach ‘ukulele lessons. Me? I got to tag along and see sights like the famous gum wall and the myriad vendors at Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and the very first Starbucks location (complete with a long line that I didn’t wait in). I even got to meet our own GeekMom Kelly live and in person! There’s plenty to see in the Emerald City, and a fair number of them make the cut for those of us who consider ourselves geeks.
Heading to Seattle? Take note of these five stops!
We spent an inordinate amount of time in this store that is packed to the ceiling with geeky pleasures. With a large collection of comic books, scripts from iconic television shows and movies, autographs, star photos, and vintage collectibles, fans of cult classics will find plenty to ogle. Then there’s the collection of memorabilia and toys based on popular games like Portal and Minecraft, as well as fan faves from TV shows like Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, and TheBig Bang Theory. My eldest came home with a Walter White figure for a friend who has a serious love of Breaking Bad.
We could have spent even more time in there, poking through the various button collections, stickers, and other totally random fun stuff, but we wanted to see what else Seattle had to offer.
In its own right, the Experience Music Project (EMP) is a music geek’s playground. Rockers can delve into the history of Jimi Hendrix or Nirvana, see a visual display of the history of the guitar, or watch the big screen showing all music, all the time. Bang the drum—quite literally—in soundproof booths that allow visitors to try out a variety of musical instruments like guitar, bass, and keyboard. My son the musician had a go at the full drum set, while I took an electronic drum kit for a (not very impressive) spin. While there is a hands-on aspect to the EMP, I suspect younger children will find it a bit tedious unless they have an intense love of music.
The Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit at the EMP cranks the geek volume up to eleven. Divided into three different themes—science fiction, fantasy, and horror—there’s a display for everyone. Tolkien fans will drool over the handwritten manuscript page and sketches from his earliest known version of The Hobbit. Trekkies can see where Captain Kirk sat at the controls along with one of those famous red suits, while fans of the Man of Steel can see the Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeve. Darth Vader’s lightsaber and Yoda’s cane will be the highlight for Star Wars fans.
The crowning glory for me, though, was the costume and prop collection from The Princess Bride. Princess Buttercup’s pale blue gown, the costumes worn by Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black, and the six-fingered glove, along with the swords used in the famous “prepare to die” scene had us quoting the movie for the rest of the afternoon.
Boeing offers the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America at its facility just north of Seattle. It is amazing to step into a 93-acre building (yes, you read that right — it’s the largest building in the world by volume) and watch as jetliners are assembled, piece by piece. Airplane geeks will definitely get a thrill out of seeing the production line in action. Jets in various stages of completion—just the fuselage, the fuselage with wings, the fuselage with wings and cockpit—are visible in the bays below as they’re assembled by some of the 43,000 Boeing employees that work here. The Future of Flight gallery gives visitors the chance to see some parts of a jetliner, compare various plane materials, and sit in a mocked-up version of the new Dreamliner.
Despite the fact that the tour has appeared on a number of “top factory tours” lists, I have some reservations about it after taking the tour with several young adults. While the tour is touted as a 1.5 hour activity, we probably spent just half an hour in the factory itself. The sheer size of the facility meant a lot of time on buses and walking through underground tunnels to get to the interesting stuff, and the time we were inside the facility was rushed as one group after another was herded through. This is really a shame because there was so much to see! The Future of Flight gallery was given a solid “meh” by the five young adults who joined me on the tour. Caveat emptor and all that.
You won’t find any iconic characters at this venue, but if you’ve ever been amazed by the art of glass blowing, this place will blow your mind with the neon-bright displays created by Dale Chihuly and his team. A friend of mine suggested that we visit, promising “your eyes will be happy.” Right she was. The displays are pure eye candy, each one more impressive than the last. The 20′ high display of blue glass reminiscent of ocean waves; the indoor “garden” of glass; the ceiling of glass that had visitors (well, okay, me) sitting on the floor in an attempt to see it from a different angle? They were all just visually stunning. We really enjoyed the video vignettes shown at the end of the tour that offer a look at the art of glass blowing itself as well as the creation of many of Chihuly’s art installations.
You’ll only catch this event once a year—the first weekend in October—but if you can be in Seattle for it, it’s worth a few hours of your time to see some of the amazing Lego creations dreamed up by hobbyists. Check out my earlier post about the Lego Rivendell on display in 2013; that alone might entice you to plan for an early October visit to Seattle.
Entrance to Boeing and the EMP was provided to GeekMom for review purposes.
GeekGirlCon is back for its third year supporting and celebrating women who deem themselves geeks. There are no cries of “fake geek girl” here: The Seattle convention prides itself on welcoming geeks of all stripes, and offers a variety of panels, events, and exhibitors to make it all happen. There’s even a DIY Science Zone for attendees of all ages.
Notable guests for the convention include Denise Crosby, who played Lt. Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation; puppeteer Karen Prell; Jane Espenson writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and producer of the hit web series Husbands; Captain Marvel and Ghost author Kelly Sue DeConnick; and professional cosplayer Chaka Cumberbatch.
This year you can find GeekMom contributors on a Saturday afternoon panel, “Home Geek Home.” Corrina Lawson, Jenn Fujikawa, and I are teaming up with Tara Theoharis and Bonnie Burton to talk about incorporating your geeky love into your home with decorating, entertaining, baking, and crafting. Take a look for the complete programming schedule for more information and details on other intriguing panels. (I’m crushed that I can’t make it for the entire SuperMOOC panel on Saturday!)
We hope to see you at GeekGirlCon 2013, October 19-20!
As the mom of a confirmed Lego junkie, I’ve learned to appreciate the nuances of a good Lego build. It’s tricky to use a brick system meant to create a specific item—say, a space shuttle or pirate ship—to build something new and entirely different. Even so, plenty of A.F.O.L. and T.F.O.L. (adult/teen fans of Lego) builders do it and do it well. Many of those builders displayed their best work at BrickCon 2013 in Seattle this past weekend, but one stunner stood out: Rivendell.
Conceived of by Alice Finch and David Frank, the two builders discussed the idea the first time they met three years ago as novice builders. With a little experience under their belts—Alice created the large Hogwarts display that won honors at past BrickCon events—they decided to go for it this year. Planning started in February, with images from Weta Workshop, the folks behind the breathtaking visuals for TheLord of the Rings movies. Using stencils based on those images, the pair created a plan that allowed them to build on 48-stud base plates that would eventually fit together to create a scene measuring 4′ x 6′ or so. (One of those components ended up weighing in at about 75 pounds!)
The actual building process began in March. Alice and David worked on the project at their respective homes, sharing progress pictures via email. Their plans changed a bit when The Hobbit was released in theaters; they decided to expand the scene to include images that appeared for the first time in the movie.
The intricate details of the build required lots of assembly—even the simple details had to be pressed together, brick by tiny brick. For this, David and Alice enlisted the help of their kids. They even had a two-family tree-making workshop to create the amazing forests. (Notice that the trees change from spring green to the rust colors of fall across the model.) Even with that extra help, David tells me, “We’ve lost many nights of sleep in the past few weeks.” The final few days before BrickCon found David crashed on Alice’s couch, grabbing a little shut-eye when he could.
Their goal was to make the final piece seamless. Done and done. The Rivendell display is simply stunning. To create something so fluid and aesthetically pleasing from a very angular building material is a feat. And yet, while the display won several awards—including the People’s Choice Award—I had a fascinating discussion with a BrickCon attendee by the name of Rick, comparing Rivendell to Alice’s previous winner, Hogwarts.
“Look at the roofs,” Rick said. “Nobody’s ever* done that with cheese slopes. Alice can say she’s the first one to have used this technique.” And yet, Rick feels that Hogwarts is a better build. The architecture and the various diorama scenes based on the Harry Potter movies that are tucked within the castle are more technically challenging, he says, than the landscape work that makes Rivendell so visually appealing.
Another thing to consider, some of the attendees tell me: A build like Rivendell wouldn’t have been possible a few short years ago. Why? Some of the parts—in particular the railings and many of the tree leaves—are third-party Lego-compatible pieces that have only become readily available in the past few years. The use of a variety of leaf colors is just one of the techniques that makes Rivendell seem so lifelike; official Lego colors are extremely limited but third-party sellers offer a wider selection of colors.
This weekend, Lego hobbyists present some of their best “builds” to the public at the 12th annual BrickCon in Seattle. While Saturday and Sunday are open to the public, Friday was set aside strictly for those that are most passionate about the iconic brick. Attending with my son, I had a chance to peek in on the activities on Friday as the builders assembled—or reassembled—their creations for public viewing. Some attendees came from quite a distance—New Zealand, Great Britain, and Germany were in the house, as were plenty of builders from the United States and Canada. Roughly 400 hobbyists brought creations to display.
There were plenty of geek-worthy entries—take a quick tour of some of the highlights with me.
Inside the Batcave:
The City Pool complete with swimmers. Check out the lanes under the “water.”
Note the tentacles on the octopus.
The white tree of Gondor, the white horse of Rohan, and the white hand of Sauraman.
Kermit the Frog serenades a mosaic Grumpy Cat.
Disney fans will adore this scene from Disneyland.
My money was on this epic build of Seattle’s Space Needle built by the director of BrickCon, Wayne Hussey…
Until I saw Rivendell. The stunning—STUNNING—recreation of Rivendell. Stay tuned for more on that project—I had a chance to talk with one of its creators—but here’s a glimpse.
BrickCon Seattle continues this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 5 & 6. Tickets are $9 per person or $32 per family.
Labor Day weekend is almost upon us, which means it’s almost time for the Penny Arcade Expo! Gamers gather in Seattle, WA every year to celebrate games of all kinds and socialize with their fellow geeks. GeekDad and GeekMom are back again this year to bring you “Raising the Next Generation of Geeks” on Saturday, August 31, at 11:30 AM in the Serpent Theater.
Curious what’s on deck for this year’s panel? We’ll be back with the same great discussions with geeky moms and dads on the panel and in the theater. This year you’ll also hear not just from the parents, but from the parented — our kids who have their own take on what it’s like to be the next generation of geeks.
GeekDad/GeekMom Scavenger Hunt
This year at PAX Prime we thought it would be fun to encourage participation in the con and mix it up a little bit with our prize giveaways. Here is a list of people to find, games to play, and activities to do at PAX.The idea is simple. Use your phone or your camera to take a picture of yourself doing each of the things on the list and bring the phone or the camera to the PAX Prime GeekDad/GeekMom panel on Saturday. We will score your entry to see how many points you have earned. You may even get to pick from our fantastic pile of prizes!
1. The GeekMom/GeekDad scavenger hunt is to be played for fun. If you won’t be happy unless you win a certain prize or get the highest score, please put down your camera and find something else to do at PAX.
2. Get a picture of yourself doing the activity or with the person listed in the scavenger hunt. This is a photo scavenger hunt—no picture, it didn’t happen. If you are taking a picture of a person, it must be clear that they are taking the picture with you. Walking by in the background doesn’t count.
3. GeekDad/GeekMom staff are the final word in scoring. Arguing could lead to disqualification.
4. Prize distribution:
There will be three brackets in this contest: 4-12, 13-17, and Adult (including kids ages 0-3). At all GeekMom/GeekDad panels, prizes are distributed at the discretion of the panel. Scoring well in the scavenger hunt will be taken into consideration but will not be the only consideration when giving out prizes. Adults and teens should expect that preferential treatment may be given to children in the audience. Participation is not a guarantee of any prize.
In the case of ties:
For the kids and teens bracket, ties will be broken by age, youngest first. In the case of the adult bracket, ties will be broken by a friendly game Agricola or—if time does not allow—rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock.
5. Grumbling, complaining, or any other form of breaking Wheaton’s law may get you disqualified from the contest. (See rule number 1.)
Thanks to our Donors!
As always, we’re incredibly grateful for all the fantastic folks who donated prizes for our PAX panel giveaways. Here’s a list of our prize donors—click on the links to find out more! (We have a few more potential donors that we’re still finalizing details with, but we’ll update this list as soon as we know.)
As you can see, there’s quite a list of goodies. We have a few more potential sponsors that we’re still working out details, but we’ll update this post as we go. Don’t forget, though—to have the best chance at winning some prizes, you’ll want to keep the photo scavenger hunt list handy on Friday!
I’ll be there along with fellow GeekMom Kay Moore. We hope to see you this weekend at PAX Prime!