GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #5: Video Games and Apps

Since Pong, video games have been of great interest to the geek community. The games and graphics have gotten much more sophisticated, but the appeal hasn’t waned. See what games the GeekMoms are playing this year!

Image: Telltale Games
Image: Telltale Games

Back to the Future: The Game (30th Anniversary Edition)
About $20
If you haven’t yet gotten enough of Back to the Future this year (and who has?), check out Telltale Games’ fantastic Back to the Future: The Game, put out in a 30th Anniversary (for the movie) edition. Set six months after the story of Back to the Future III, you’ll take Marty through time once again to save Doc Brown, making choices for him as he tries to stay out of trouble himself. It’s a bit like the old Secret of Monkey Island game, except much more up to date, and with time travel!

Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle © Nintendo
Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle © Nintendo

Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle
Super Mario Maker not only puts all of your game designer dreams to the test, it also challenges all of your Mario skills with a staggering amount of brilliant levels created by players around the world. If you don’t already have a Wii U, there’s no better time to buy one than now with this bundle including both the game and the console. Continue reading GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #5: Video Games and Apps

PAX Prime: Hands On With The Elder Scrolls Online

ESO Booth
PAX 2013 / Photo: Kelly Knox

At PAX Prime 2013, one of the most popular areas of the game hall was the corner housed by Bethesda. The line to play The Elder Scrolls Online, a massively multiplayer game currently in development from Zenimax Online Studios, filled up quickly each day with gamers eager to get into the world of Skyrim and Morrowind. I was lucky enough to settle in for a few minutes and enter the lands of Tamriel during my first hands on look at The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO).

The short verdict? You absolutely feel like you’re back in Skyrim.

Story-wise, ESO takes place a thousand years before the events of Skyrim. Players choose to be a part of one of three alliances, depending on the race of the selected character. Veterans of Elder Scrolls games will love to return to the lands of Morrowind and other familiar locales. In my play-through at PAX, I re-created my current Nord character to enter the cold landscape of Skyrim. Character customization is robust, as you’d expect it to be in a next-generation MMO. I could have spent hours just fiddling with each setting and slider to get my look just right, from age to proportions to facial features.

Elder Scrolls Online © Bethesda / Zenimax Online

Comparisons to Skyrim are (obviously) unavoidable, and there are some differences. For instance, when creating a character in ESO, you also select a class to determine your combat skills. Stealthy types might be surprised to learn that in ESO sneaking now consumes stamina, which will play an interesting role in Player vs. Player (PvP) combat. PvP is a large part of the game in the form of the alliance war, although Creative Director Paul Sage assured me that there’s lots more to the end game than fighting fellow players.

PvP is just one of the many multiplayer mainstays that make The Elder Scrolls Online a well-blended mix of Skyrim and MMO. If you’re a longtime player of games like World of Warcraft and EverQuest, you’ll feel even more at home in the game with slash commands like /dance, crafting, and using skills on the hotbar during combat. Surprisingly, the automatically disappearing hotbar was one of my favorite features from the get-go.

While I only spent a few minutes in ESO at PAX Prime, I left with a good impression and a renewed interest in the game. The Elder Scrolls Online is currently planned for a 2014 launch on the PC, Mac, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

This Week With the GeekMoms

GeekMom News

Dakster Sullivan has no plans this weekend, but if she did, this is what she imagines she would like to be doing: “First, I would be flying to LA for a meeting with executives about a Batgirl movie. Gail Simone would be in attendance, since she’s not only writing the script, but also the woman in charge of it all. After the meeting, Gail has me catching a flight to Chicago to scout out locations for the Gotham City scenes.”

Judy Berna spent Spring Break driving her kids across the long plains of Kansas to visit her parents in Missouri. The trip was made much easier since her third teen passed his driver’s test two weeks ago. In fact, she had so much time in the passenger’s seat, she got to devour Mary Roach’s fascinating new book, Gulp. Two days after arriving home she got a surprising email, saying she was a finalist in the Notes and Words essay contest. If you’d like to see her submission (and possibly click ‘like’ if you enjoy it) follow this link. Since the theme of the contest was ‘transitions’ she chose to write about the day, the moment, she realized that having her foot amputated was going to improve her life.

Kelly Knox is struggling to find time to do the reading and discussion topics for the Gender Through Comic Books online course. She did enjoy the first reading assignment, Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise, more than she expected. Kelly plans to set aside some time each week to sit and read and ponder, even if it means less time playing Skyrim. (Gasp!)

Rachel has a sports-filled weekend ahead, and she’s not entirely sure how she feels about that. However, she’s sort of excited for Saturday’s Harlem Globetrotters event, where she will relive part of her youth and watch her son practically pass out from laughter.

Fourteen Fictional Foods You Can't Have (And Recipes For Them)

This picture is a lie. Image credit: qwrrty

Our favorite fictional worlds are often fantastically full of fantasy flavors–some better than others. It’s hard to resist creating Earthly versions of them, so why fight it? Here are fourteen foods from fiction and ways to make them yourself, along with three you can find without much invention.


Of the myriad Middle Earth munchies, lembas seems to be the most popular to recreate. (Maybe because “cram” is a less appealing name, especially when eating it is described as “a chewing exercise.”) Lembas, on the other hand, has a description similar to hard tack, a cracker sort of thing we don’t see much of in the US. Here’s a lembas recipe based on what we know about it. At the end of the experiment, you will be baked andthentherewillbe cake.

Fruity Oaty Bars

I wouldn’t fault you for printing Fruity Oaty Bar wrappers and putting them on your Clif bars. That seems reasonable, and less likely to have any ill effects from consuming Blue Sun products. But if you want to make your own, they tell us right there in the name that they likely contain something resembling fruit, something resembling oats, and are bar-shaped. How convenient! Even more convenient–a recipe using oats and the fruit puree of your choice. I invited your best friend, the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn’t come because you murdered him.


Cake and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the post. This is your fault. I’m going to kill you. And all the cake is gone. You don’t even care, do you?


Leave it to the Klingons to name a delicacy with the sound a human is likely to make when eating it. Short of actually eating live worms (which I really don’t recommend, despite enjoying How to Eat Fried Worms), you can recreate the look with Jell-o Blood Worms. If your tongue is brave, try this recipe made with ginger and cocoa. And if you’re really yearning for the sensation, I think you could get close with casu marzu.Momentum, a function of mass and velocity, is conserved between portals. In layman’s terms, speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out.


Really? Really? You want to eat spoo? Babylon 5 fans are so weird. (I love you anyway.) How about some gnocchi spoo? It’s not worms, but we covered that particular taste with the gagh. Did you know you can donate one or all of your vital organs to the Aperture Science Self Esteem Fund for Girls? It’s true!

Food cubes

Dear Future,

Nutrition is important, but food is supposed to look good as well as taste good. Please remember this.

The present

I’m all about space travel, but you won’t see me spending long on any planet that thinks food cubes are a good idea. Claudia Black, who played Aeryn Sun on Farscape, says they used “hawanalis.” A poster on the RPF suggests that what she really meant was haw flake candy.That thing you burnt up isn’t important to me. It’s the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit; it makes shoes for orphans. Nice job breaking it, hero.


The problems with popplers are plentiful, and not limited to MEAT protests. There’s the lack of transportation to Omicron Persei 8, the difficulty of eating animated food, and the fact that I can’t stop thinking about my fond 80s feelings for Popples. Searching for imitation recipes of this Futurama universe delicacy will yield you everything from seafood bites to hush puppies to chicken nuggets, so choose your favorite deep-fried, ball-shaped treat and sing along. You can pick ’em, you can lick ’em, you can chew ’em, you can stick ’em. If you promise not to sue us, you can shove one up your nose!” The Enrichment Center is required to remind you that the Weighted Companion Cube cannot talk. In the event that it does, ignore its advice.

Ice planets

Your food is problematic? Let us solve your problem! Make your own Firefly ice planets to torture your kids all afternoon. Anyway, this cake is great. It’s so delicious and moist. Look at me still talking when there’s science to do.

Continue reading Fourteen Fictional Foods You Can't Have (And Recipes For Them)

Skyrim, Minecraft, and Nerd New Year: The allure of 11-11-11

11-11-11 movie poster

Oh, humans, how we do like patterns in numbers. There’s even a word for it–apophenia, the hunt for meaning in meaningless data. Including today, there are only two days left in our lifetimes you’ll have to survive your Facebook friends marvelling at the wonder that is noting the time of 02:02:02 on 02-02-02 or 07:07:07 on 07-07-07. What a thrill we have with this year’s 11:11:11 on 11-11-11. It’s particularly nice with its pleasing series of all 1s–plus those first nine years required the hassle of putting a 0 in front of the month and day, which most of us seldom do.

The numbers have also spurred celebration of Nerd New Year. Or in the words of organizer Adam Rifkin, “Once in a century, the calendar strikes 11/11/11 — and IT IS ON.” On times six, but benefiting–what else? Eleven charities.

Plenty of people are celebrating the non-event, and companies are cashing in on the nice, repetitive date.

KFC and its 11 herbs and spices chose to announce their discovery of an unpublished “food autobiography” yesterday, while noting that it was “on the eve of 11-11-11.” What? That pressing news couldn’t have waited another 24 hours?

It’s also Corduroy Appreciation Day, as the date resembles the wales in the fabric. Now you know what to wear while you *cough* call in sick to play Skyrim. You’ll need it if we end up repeating the 65-degree temperature change of the last 11-11-11.