GeekMom Smart. Social Savvy. 2018-01-22T01:53:41Z https://geekmom.com/feed/atom/ https://geekmom.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2017/12/cropped-GeekMom-Square-Favicon-122817-100-32x32.png Ken Denmead <![CDATA[Geek Daily Deals Jan. 21, 2018: 2-Pack Titanium Sporks for $22; Sling Some Outrageous Magic With ‘Epic Spell Wars 3’]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/geek-daily-deals-jan-21-2018-2-pack-titanium-sporks-for-22-sling-some-outrageous-magic-with-epic-spell-wars-3/ 2018-01-21T17:24:49Z 2018-01-21T17:24:41Z Reading Time: 2 minutes Geek Daily Deals on a two-pack of titatnium sporks, perfect for camping or your daily lunch-on-the-go; get the crazy fun card game ‘Epic Spell Wars 3.’ Light My Fire Titanium Spork (2-pack): I’ve been using a titanium spork as the utensil I carry in my every day lunch set to work […]

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Geek Daily Deals 012118 titanium spork epic spell wars 3Geek Daily Deals on a two-pack of titatnium sporks, perfect for camping or your daily lunch-on-the-go; get the crazy fun card game ‘Epic Spell Wars 3.’

Light My Fire Titanium Spork (2-pack):

I’ve been using a titanium spork as the utensil I carry in my every day lunch set to work for years now. They are super durable, lightweight, easy to clean, and awesomely geeky!

For outdoor campers who need compact, multiuse carry, the Light My Fire titanium spork is a lightweight utensil that is durable and biocompatible. The titanium surface is polished and free of any metallic taste, and is non-corrosive and non-magnetic. The spork is dishwasher safe and hypoallergenic. At 0.7 ounces, it’s easy to pack and carry.

  • Material: Titanium
  • Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.5 x 0.8 in (17 x 4 x2 cm)
  • Weight: 0.7 oz (20 g)

Get the 2-pack for just 18!

 

Epic Spell Wars 3:

This is the third edition of this hilarious magic-slinging card game, so the rules have refined and expanded for maximum damage and fun. And this is a great deal – it’s 15% cheaper than Amazon, including free shipping!

A Munchkin-style card game that allows you and your friends to wield magical absurdities against each other, Epic Spell Wars features engaging art on every card, wicked humor throughout, and enough variety to stay entertained game after game. This third version of the popular game features Cantrip cards, that allow you to add extra effects to your spells by discarding other cards; Bad Trip cards, that resolve twice if your card has lots of glyphs; Dual-Glyph deliveries; and everlasting treasures. Take turns crafting powerful spell combos on your rivals, and prepare for raucous gameplay that will have you on your knees.

  • Designed by Matt Hyra and Cory Jones
  • Artwork by RS Bixby
  • Players: 2–6
  • Playing time: 30 min
  • Recommended for ages 15 and up

Get one today for just $23!

 

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Lisa Tate <![CDATA[5 Books I’m Still Waiting to See Become Movies or Television Series]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299744 2018-01-21T01:44:15Z 2018-01-21T15:00:17Z Books and comics are some of the best sources of inspiration for filmmakers, but there are still many favorites that haven't yet made the journey from page to screen.

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Reading Time: 8 minutes
BooksToMoviesMain
My family and I have all curled up with favorite books, many of which we would love to see get a decent television or movie adaptation. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.

Soon, I will finally get to see one of my favorite books, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, become a televisions series. It had to take a detour through the world of radio theatre first in 2017, thanks to a great adaptation by BBC Radio 4, but it will soon become a live-action series on Amazon Prime.

This is one of the books I never thought would make it onto the screen (big or small), and yet it should be here sometime in 2019. This gives me hope for some other books that have hit roadblocks along the book-to-movie route.

good omens
If Good Omens can finally make it from book to radio to live action, there may be hope some other favorite stories. Images: © William Morrow, BBC4, and Neil Gaiman/Twitter.

A few of my favorite stories I am still patiently waiting for the filmmaking world to take on include:

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

My favorite King by far is this dark fantasy where heir-to-the-throne Peter finds himself imprisoned after being framed for murdering his father, with younger brother Thomas soon to take the throne. Thomas, who grows to be a less-than-loved monarch while Peter devises and patient plan of escape from his prison, knows what really happened to his father, as he saw everything while spying through the glass eye of a dragon’s head mounted in the king’s room. Dark Tower series fans will see some connections in character names, like Flagg and King Roland. There were plans to translate this first as a movie, then as a Syfy network television adaptation, but nothing happened with either of these.

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore

Moore’s raunchy fantasies set in the northern California community of Pine Cove have gained quite a following, but his debut novel is still the funniest. This weird “buddy story” follows 100-year-old Travis O’Hearn and his people eating and snarky comment-tossing demon traveling companion, Catch. When they reach the quirky Pine Cove, Travis hopes to find a way to finally rid himself of Catch. All Hell breaks loose at the expense of the characters, and it’s nonstop amusement for the reader. Despite fans wanting to see this happen, Moore, when asked if there is any progress happening to make his books into movies said on his own webpage, “Not a damn thing.” All his books have been optioned or bought for film at one time or another, but that’s as far as that goes. No big screen Catch yet. Hey, Netflix, here’s your opportunity!

Another fun book of Moore’s that would be great for the big screen is Bloodsucking Fiends, but I’d like to see a break on the vampire romances for awhile.

Scarlett Couture by Des Taylor

I keep hearing people say we need “a woman James Bond.” We do not. Not only because I love James Bond as a suave British man, but also because there are already some great women secret agents who are primed for the big screen, and one of them, I’m proud to say, is an American. Taylor’s Scarlett Couture is a modern day spy tale with a shout-out to Ian Fleming’s style of storytelling, where Scarlett uses her high society position as heiress of a fashion industry as the perfect front for her government intelligence agency. She’s the one doing the rescuing after the posh parties. The only reason I would be hesitant about this one being made is that Taylor’s sleek artistic style is one of the things that makes this comic so cool. This one really needs a director who will stay true to the source material.

Everyone seems so obsessed with getting a female James Bond, they are missing a perfect opportunity to let this original character give him a run for his money.

Fables by Bill Willingham

I keep waiting for a series or movie of this one, but shows with similar fairy tale and fable-based plots like Grimm and Once Upon a Time kept popping up in its place. I’m not criticizing these shows, but I want to see Willingham’s actual interpretation of these legends on screen including Snow White and Rose Red, The Adversary (Ghepetto), Flycatcher, and especially, above all, Bigby Wolf. I keep seeing hints that there is a movie adaption in the works. As far back as 2005, it looked like NBC would try it out, but we got Grimm instead. There was later some news ABC wanted it, but nope, that didn’t happen either. Back in 2013, I read producer David Heyman was interested in developing a film series. That might still be in the works, but there isn’t really any solid news to be found. I’ve even seen superfans link actors like Russell Crowe, Benicio Del Toro, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan to the role of Bigby. I’m fine with any of these guys, just make the movie already!

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

This whole concept is great. There’s a special group of literary operatives out there looking out for the classics we read and making sure people don’t mess with them. When characters from Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre begin to go missing, special operative Thursday Next puts her skills to work. This book takes place in an alternate world circa 1980s, but it could easily be done anytime. Plus, protagonist Thursday Next is a smart, funny, and a very relatable character who fans would want to follow along in a weekly television or movie series. Plus, everyone owns a dodo bird! Fforde has a hilarious website that explores this series’ world well and he does address the issue of movies based on his books. It doesn’t look likely, but Fforde’s criteria for interested producers are simple: “You have to have made a movie I’ve heard of, and liked.” Serious and established “players” only, in other words.

There are plenty of young readers books I want to see, as well:

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Fforde’s humor isn’t just for adults. This first in his young reader’s Chronicles of Kazam series is suitable for young readers as well as adults, and like everything else he does, you won’t be able to suppress your laughter. Magic is common in the world of teen hero Jennifer Strange, but technology is pushing it out of fashion. The adventure begins when Strange, who works for an employment agency for magicians, becomes an apprentice to the last dragonslayer, and she eventually earns the title as… sorry, no spoilers. You have to read it. This magical, modern world is for those who thought they’ve read everything they can about teen conjurers or dragons. As for whether or not there will ever be a movie, please refer to my comments on Eyre Affair above.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

This Newberry Award winner was my Ready Player One when I was a fourth grader… I didn’t want to put it down until I got the answers. There’s a mystery mixed with a hunt mixed with a young underdog. Reclusive millionaire Sam Westing has left clues in his will to a group of carefully selected “heirs.” These people come from a wide range of ages, ethnic backgrounds, and occupations, and don’t seem to have anything in common except being part of this “game.” The ones who find out who killed him first inherit his entire fortune and control of his company. It was written in 1978, and it is still a worthy adventure. In all fairness, this book has been made into a pretty forgettable television adaptation in 1997 under the name Get a Clue, but this needs some big budget treatment. It deserves better.

The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

Did you ever think a there would be a kid-friendly version of Reservoir Dogs, and we parents would approve? The weird genius behind Thelma the Unicorn has done it. Blabey’s illustrated misadventures of a bunch of “bad guys” (Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark) trying to do good things is prime family-friendly binge watching. This is the easy read that helped my youngest transition to reading on her own. She has read this series again and again, and quotes it and reads passages aloud to whoever will listen. I have never seen her so taken with a book series, and I’m thankful to Blabey for giving her the reading bug. These books are a hoot and would make for an equally funny series. Released in 2016, this is the newest book on my list It doesn’t look like anything is happening soon, although Blabey has his own background as an Australian television and film actor. That might give him and advantage.

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

By now it should be evident I enjoy reading books with dragons. McCaffrey is the grand leader of dragon-centric fiction. For those who aren’t familiar with McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern (all both of you), Dragonflight is the first book in the series. In it, we meet Lessa, an orphaned outcast who grows up set on getting revenge for her parents’ murder. She helps to change her own fate, as well as the fate of her world, with a dragon she has telepathically bonded with. McCaffrey sold the moving picture rights to her series in the 1990s, but despite all the talk of there being a television series or movie as recent as 2014, there still isn’t one. McCaffrey’s fandom is almost as enthusiastic of those who love Tolkien or JK Rowling. The fanfiction community alone is huge. They just don’t have a big screen series to call their own… yet.

bookstomovies
Coming soon to a theatre or television near you? Probably not, but they should.

Of course, there’s a caveat.

How many times have we been excited about a movie or comic making it to the big screen only to think, “What the what??? Did they even read the book first?!”

That’s happened to me more than once. They either change the story to “appeal to a specific audience,” or the director decides to change the entire story to fit their own personal political, social, or artistic agenda. Other times, a favorite characters or settings I have envisioned get horribly miscast, or the story is modified for a different location or era. Finally, there’s the movie-making death blow of eliminating favorite characters or scenes to fit into a certain time frame. This has even happened with movies adaptations I’ve loved. Where was Peeves in the Harry Potter series? Why didn’t the hobbits stop by and see Tom and Goldberry?

One would think having the visual artform of comic books and graphic novels as a resource would help point a movie in the right directions, but they’ve screwed this up time and time again. Even with tons of comics, radio theatre episodes to reference, not to mention a few old cheesy 1950s television adaptations, The Shadow movie from 1994 was so awful no one wants to tackle it again. It desperately needs a do-over. I heard Sam Raimi wanted to do one, but that looks to be another no-go.

No matter how good a job a director does with a book adaptation, the best way for a favorite book or comic to remain a favorite is for its story and message to move directly from the written words (or illustrated pages) into our heads where we, in a sense, create our own ideal movie adaptations.

Our minds are the best silver screen or silicon set there is. As long as our favorite stories are kept safely there, no one can mess them up.

As much as I would love to see some of these wonderful stories finally come to life for others to discover, I’ve learned one thing from my own moviegoing experiences over the years:

Be careful what you wish for.

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ktildenfrost http://www.ktildenfrost.com <![CDATA[‘Wonder Woman: Rebirth’ — Wait for the Deluxe Editions]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299722 2018-01-22T01:50:15Z 2018-01-21T13:00:42Z Sometimes a series completely falls apart because poor publishing decisions make the books completely unreadable. This has been the case with the trade paperback volumes 1-4 of Greg Rucka’s run on 'Wonder Woman: Rebirth.'

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Reading Time: 12 minutes
Image of Wonder Woman standing, holding her lasso
Cover Image from Wonder Woman Year One trade paperback from DC Comics

Series—whether book, movie, or TV—rarely have the same quality throughout. Some decrease in quality because the author has a different vision than the audience concerning what is intriguing about the character and setting (Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter), because the author gets tangled in their backstory and plans and doesn’t quite make it all come together (Divergent, His Dark Materials), or because of a change in the creative team (The West Wing). Sometimes a series increases in quality as the writer or story comes into its own (The Dresden Files). And sometimes a series completely falls apart because poor publishing decisions make the books completely unreadable.

This has been the case with the trade paperback volumes 1-4 of Greg Rucka’s run on Wonder Woman: Rebirth. This book involves a fully fleshed out female character who is a superhero without being written like a man with boobs. She is dealing with a version of gaslighting writ large that is causing her to doubt the very essence of her being. She is overwhelmed by and eventually moves through her terror, loss, and anger to face her abuser head on, eventually saving herself and her people.

I’m not overselling this here; the main driver of the early plot is that a character who once held the mantle as the literal Goddess of Truth is quite literally doubting her own sanity after her history and experiences are called into question.

This is a multifaceted, character-oriented superhero story, evidenced not just by the writing but by the art. Each artist shows a strength I look for and adore in my favorite works—the ability to create expressive faces, guiding the mood of the story, and never relying on the text to carry you through. The first two volumes of this series moved me to tears on multiple occasions.

In volumes 3 and 4, I believe that the same tight narrative style and incredibly gorgeous art would have created a story that I’d be recommending to everyone I know… if I’d been able to read it without flipping back and forth between three different volumes to try and understand what I was reading.

The Sense Behind Reading Comics in Trade Formats

I very rarely buy books in single issues: space, economics, and experiences with comic book stores that have left me cold mean that when I do buy single issues, I buy them digitally. More often than not, however, I buy trade paperbacks. I like to read several issues of a book at once, and the physical feel of a trade comic better accommodates some of my sensory issues.

Since I’d heard such amazing things about Rucka as a comics writer, this seemed like a great way to find out what he was about (I hadn’t even realized he did a previous run on Wonder Woman). I didn’t get clued in to how the run would be collected in trade until after I’d purchased the first volume; after that, even knowing the weirdness of DC’s choice, it made sense to keep buying the trade paperbacks.

This choice nearly ruined my reading experience of one of the best comics I think I’ve ever read. It turns out that there are two ways to read this exceptional comic: in single issues (either paper or digital) or by waiting for the Deluxe Editions. Don’t be like me and buy the paperback trades; you’ll regret the experience and the expenditure.

What’s Going on With Wonder Woman’s Rebirth Trades?

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Some of DC’s most popular titles come out twice a month. In order to create visual consistency, Rucka’s Wonder Woman alternates artists between issues and has two interwoven plots: one for odd numbered issues, one for even numbered issues. In its original, single issue form, this created an incredible, critically acclaimed story. But when it came time to put it in trade, DC decided to fix what wasn’t broken. In doing so, they broke it badly.

Check this out: I give you the Wonder Woman trades and their contents:

  • Volume 1: The Lies (Wonder Woman: Rebirth Special, Issues #1, #3, #5, #7, #9, #11)
    • Writer: Greg Rucka
    • Pencils and Inks: Liam Sharp
    • Colorists: Laura Martin and Jeremy Colwell
  • Volume 2: Year One (#2, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12, #14)
    • Writer: Greg Rucka
    • Pencils and Inks: Nicola Scott (with Bilquis Evely for Issue #8, ‘Interlude’)
    • Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
  • Volume 3: The Truth (#13, #15, #17, #19, #21, #23, #25)
    • Writer: Greg Rucka
    • Pencils and Inks: Liam Sharp (with Renato Guedes on Issue #13, “Angel Down,” and Bilquis Evely providing additional art on Issue #25, “Perfect”)
    • Colorists: Laura Martin and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
  • Volume 4: Godwatch (#16, #18, #20, #22, #24, Annual)
    • Writer: Greg Rucka
    • Artist: Bilquis Evely gets cover credit, but Mirka Andolfo, Nicola Scott, Scott Hanna, Mark Morales, Andrew Hennessy and Raul Fernandez all get interior credit
    • Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Notice those content lists? I didn’t, and I should have. I should have been concerned; baffled; confused; annoyed; mad—the five stages of dealing with comics’ nonsense.

Why Does Trade Organization Matter?

It’s always frustrating when a company decides to collect a book differently than how it was originally published. When trades incorporate tie-in books or annuals that aren’t technically part of the specific title’s numbered narrative but deepen the reading experience in some fashion (or create some context for those pesky tie-ins), the choice makes sense. When there’s a major change like this, however, which presents the narrative in a different fashion than originally intended, I object as a creator and consumer.

Frankly, when I was picking up DC titles at a Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale, it never occurred to me to check if Wonder Woman: Rebirth contained anything other than (roughly) issues 1-6 of the book. I am primarily familiar with Wonder Woman through the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons: the rest of my experience with Diana, Princess of the Amazons was through cultural osmosis.

I do vaguely remember the Lynda Carter show from when I was a kid, but the Wonder Woman movie hadn’t even come out when I bought this book. Reading the first trade, I was stunned by the in-depth, adult-focused storyline of a woman trying to understand the truth of who she really was, which history (and, God help me, which continuity) was hers. I dove into Volume 1 wholeheartedly, and I absolutely loved what I was reading.

Volume 2 (which I bought as soon as it was available) serves as exactly what it says on the cover: an updated origin story for those who are new to the DC comics world, covering Diana’s first year as Wonder Woman. I was actually reading Year One at the same time that I was diving into George Perez’s run on Wonder Woman from 1986; the way Rucka and Scott both paid tribute to and created their own unique version of what Perez had done thirty years prior was amazing. If I wasn’t in love with Wonder Woman after the first trade, reading this arc (drawn by Nicola Scott, one of the best artists currently working in comics) had me sold.

So Where Does Wonder Woman: Rebirth Go Wrong?

And then Volume 3 happened. The story started to become very disjointed. Throughout Volume 1, Diana was overwhelmed by the various histories that she had experienced and eventually discovered that much of what she thought had happened in her past was false.

Volume 3 opens with Diana’s mind fundamentally broken by this experience, and her calling out to her gods to understand what has happened to her. (As a brief trigger warning regarding mental health issues, this trade opens with Diana institutionalized as she is lost within her own mind.)

The beginning of the volume was heartbreaking, but as the story went on and Diana regained her sense of self, I lost track of what was happening. Themyscira was being invaded? Diana was being manipulated, or maybe attacked? There was a faceless girl? And an angry and blonde lady? Ares and his sons were causing trouble? I wasn’t sure why, but let’s face it: Ares, God of War, is frequently an adversary of Diana’s, so I was willing to run with the narrative, as confusing as I found it.

I managed to put together the general overview of the story. A woman I’d never heard of was trying to kill Diana because of her daughter who has no face, and Ares was causing trouble because of things I was sure they’d explain, and then they did, but only kind of. I was never entirely sure what was going on, but overall the story had been moving and beautifully drawn, so I was willing to let that go.

The story in Volume 3 was complete, if confusing. I’d even read the epilogue; I heard later that issue #25, “Perfect,” was, in fact, Rucka’s last issue on the run. This story is a moment of soft sweetness in a tale that has been marked by internal and external violence, and it closes on the relationship between Steve Trevor and Diana. It feels like an incredible, peaceful, quiet resting place for Rucka to lay his story down like the precious and loved thing that it is, giving it a quiet kiss before he moved on.

The story felt completely finished and thoroughly wrapped up, but Rucka’s run was not actually finished; I knew the even issues were still on their way in Volume 4, but how could there be any story left to tell?

When Volume 4: Godwatch showed up on my doorstep in November, I understood why everything had gone so sideways, and Volume 3 had been so confusing. Volume 4 was theoretically a self-contained story, except that its narrative was the necessary context to understand what was happening in Volume 3. I learned who the blonde lady was, why she was so angry about Diana specifically, why her kid didn’t have a face, and why Ares was causing trouble this particular time. I felt less like I hadn’t grasped the central point of the story and a lot more like DC had screwed up my ability to read this beautiful piece. It’s amazing how much clearer a narrative becomes when you have the characters’ motives.

Two issues into Volume 4, it became clear that I was reading one half of a tightly woven narrative, and the half that gave me all of the context I’d been missing in Volume 3. I quit reading halfway through the book in disgust.

When I was a kid, I read The Lord of the Rings. I found Merry and Pippin’s story incredibly boring, so as soon as they got hooked back up with Gandalf in The Two Towers, I skipped to the Sam and Frodo parts of the book. I didn’t even bother with the first half of Return of the King. I had no idea who Eowyn was, why all these people were at the gates of Mordor, or how any of the last quarter of Return of the King came to be.

The first time I experienced the entire story as a unified whole was the Peter Jackson adaptations. Friends of mine who are Tolkien fans have expressed their moral outrage at my behavior for decades, but at least when I was a kid, my total lack of understanding was my own fault.

This time, it is not my fault, and DC is to blame.

It’s one thing to separate out Volumes 1 and 2, where the story does take place in two separate times and places. In retrospect, the tragedy of Barbara Ann is much more poignant and beautiful if you are seeing who she was and who she became as a constant set of reflecting mirrors, especially when paired with Diana’s own journey. But Volumes 1 and 2 are at least readable separately, and I marked the quality by how many times I cried reading each book (which to my recollection was 4 and 6 respectively).

But Volumes 3 and 4 aren’t separate stories; they are two halves of the same story, and it was a mistake for DC to publish and present them as anything else. (In the interest of fairness, there is tiny print on the back of the Volumes 3 and 4 which, if you read squint, notes that the trades collect odd and even issues respectively.) To read the story in publication order, you would need to read an issue out of Volume 3, then the last issue from Volume 2, another out of Volume 3, and then alternate with an issue out of Volume 4 and Volume 3 until you got to the series wrap in Volume 3.

The last time I had to spend this much work to read something, I was comparing biblical translations for a Religion, Literature, and Philosophy seminar in college. Without a professor breathing down my neck and a grade required for my major (or intentionally choosing to examine two books side by side for a review or article), I absolutely refuse to read this way. This is supposed to be my leisure time, not a homework assignment.

So Is Wonder Woman: Rebirth Unreadable in Collections?

There is hope in the midst of this stupidity. The one thing DC has done right, belated though it may be, is publish Deluxe Editions of the comic. Each Deluxe Edition combines two of the trade volumes in an oversized format and—thank the powers that be—presents the comic in its initial, intended, comprehensible reading order.

Unfortunately, Wonder Woman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 doesn’t come out until July 2018: that’s eight months after Volume 4 hit the shelves in trade, and over a year since the final issue of Rucka’s run was released. That’s an incredibly long time to wait to read a title I love just because DC doesn’t know how to publish things, but it is a lovely way to keep me out of current comics culture. If Diana is doing something in another title, I certainly don’t know about it, because I will be over a year behind by the time I pick up the second Deluxe Edition. Of course, James Robinson’s run seems to be universally panned, so it’s unlikely I’ll be keeping up with Diana from here until there’s a new creative team anyway. DC Comics: forever offering a cherry on top of the cow patty sundae.

While all of this offends me as a writer, I’m downright ornery as a consumer about needing to buy the books twice. There’s an argument to be made that I should have known better, but it’s a weak one. The onus is on DC to make their work accessible to those of us who just want to pick up something to read, and I can absolutely own that this makes me particularly angry when it’s being screwed up with the company’s most recognizable female character. Yes, the Deluxe Edition is better and fixes the problems with the individual volume releases, but this whole enterprise is amazingly stupid.

It’s like waiting a year between each third of Rashomon and being told it’s okay, I’ll get a DVD in a couple months. I’ve watched Star Trek: TNG‘s first two seasons on purpose (more than once!), I am willing to walk through a downpour in order to get to the good stuff, but don’t tell me I’m walking through golden rain when I’m really trying to run through a golden shower.

There is also plenty of evidence that modern movie fans backtrack to comics when they love the movie. With its phenomenal sales numbers and reach into new audiences, the Wonder Woman movie could drive huge numbers of fans into the arms of comics, but many people who are not current comics fans are unlikely to venture into the hallowed walls of the local comic store. I could sell a number of friends on the wonder of Wonder Woman—just like I did on Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, X-23, Batwoman—but asking them to buy a $35 hardcover without knowing if they’ll enjoy the story is a bit more dramatic than recommending a $17 paperback.

Not feeling like I can easily recommend Wonder Woman is a particular shame, given that the content in this book is pure gold. I’ve complained about DC’s collections and praised Rucka’s writing, but I could (and do!) go full on Wayne and Garth “We’re Not Worthy” for the art. I’m an absolute fangirl for Nicola Scott, and her work on Year One is what made me one. She has referred to working on Wonder Woman as her “all-time dream job,” and her enthusiasm shows through with some of the best work I’ve seen in comics, full stop.

Liam Sharp on Volumes 1 and 3 balances gorgeous, sweeping scenes with tight, focused work on faces that carried me through this unfamiliar journey with a character I’ve grown to love. Bilquis Evely has a looser sort of style that I enjoyed, but think I would have liked a lot more if the story I was reading hadn’t been completely incomprehensible. I suppose I’ll find out in six months.

Because DC is nothing if not persistent—when it has a bad idea, it commits—it’s worth noting at least one more comic where you need the Deluxe Editions, not the paperback trades. Harley Quinn, a wonderful comic by the creative team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (and so many more artists and writers), won’t be collected properly until the Deluxe Editions come out. The backup features co-written by comics legend and Harley co-creator Paul Dini, set in Harley’s past, are relegated to a later trade rather than presented as they were originally published. That’s a real shame, as I would have liked to have read those sooner rather than later.

This exasperating nonsense has made me wary of buying newer DC comics as a whole, at least without doing more research on the titles I’m interested in. The overall effect is that I’m less likely to read titles that aren’t A-list to begin with. The smaller titles will slip under my radar, so I’m less likely to buy them, so I’m less likely to recommend them, and there’s a 50/50 chance the editor will blame me for the cancellation of books I’ve never heard of. I doubt I’m the only one in that position, but I’m the one talking about it.

The original trades won’t go to waste; I’ll leave them in my Little Free Library down the street. There’s someone in my neighborhood who loves comics as much as I do, because any trade I leave there is gone within twelve hours.

But for the first time, I’ll be leaving a note along with them.

Dear Comics Friend!
I hope you love Diana as much as I do in these books. A word to the wise, however; you’ll need to switch between Volumes 1 and 2 (then 3 and 4) to read the story the way it was intended. Check the interiors for the exact issue numbers before you get started. Sorry for the homework assignment, but at least you have a cheat sheet!
Good luck and enjoy. And hey, if this is too annoying for you, you can join me in waiting for the Deluxe Editions.

My first real experience reading Greg Rucka’s work was incredibly rewarding, and I’m diving as far into his bibliography as I can. Black Magick, his previous Wonder Woman run, Batwoman, and Checkmate are all on my immediate TBR. It’s a shame that DC took an incredible story and hamstrung it for those of us who avoid our LCS like the plague.

Let’s not kid ourselves, comics are hard to break in to, and I don’t mean creatively. If you want to read X-Men, for example, you better be prepared to do your research and read more than one title a month. But it doesn’t have to be like that. It shouldn’t be like that. This is a fixable problem, and one that currently makes it hard to read something beautiful. I’m waiting for the Deluxe Edition. I hope you love this story as much as I do.

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gfnadmin <![CDATA[5 Reasons to Read ‘Sourdough’ by Robin Sloan]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/5-reasons-to-read-sourdough-by-robin-sloan/ 2018-01-21T11:24:34Z 2018-01-21T11:24:26Z Reading Time: 3 minutes I read Robin Sloan’s first novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a few years ago. I loved it. It’s geek manna. There are codes, references to Tolkien and D&D, 500-year-old codexes, technology, epic quests, Google, and even a fictitious fantasy trilogy. There’s even an impossibly vertical bookstore—with ladders. It is an absolute riot. Now, Robin Sloan […]

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I read Robin Sloan’s first novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstorea few years ago. I loved it. It’s geek manna. There are codes, references to Tolkien and D&D, 500-year-old codexes, technology, epic quests, Google, and even a fictitious fantasy trilogy. There’s even an impossibly vertical bookstore—with ladders. It is an absolute riot.

Now, Robin Sloan is back with Sourdough, a book that is, on the face of it, less geeky. Yet, it touches on the same themes of modernity, technology, and its impact on society.

Here are five reasons why you should read it:

1: It’s funny!

Sourdough is a wry, dry look at the life of millennials. It satirizes the absurdities of modern life. The novel opens in a robotics factory where a team of extremely bright professionals works day and night trying to make humans obsolete. This sentiment pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the tone of the novel.

2: It examines man vs. machine.

Following on from reason 1, the book examines the natural vs. the synthetic. The sourdough at the center of the story is a living thing, and out of it grows central character Lois’s desire to make bread. Prior to that, all she ate was take-out and a synthetic nutrient slurry. Lois works for a tech company specializing in robot arms. The company’s aim? To replicate everything a human can do. This is a story about the balance between expediency and experience.

3: The sourdough starter is a metaphor for a tech company.

It all begins with a start-up. I don’t want to spoil the novel too much, but I’ll say that the success of the sourdough starter and the lengths needed to help it grow are most definitely metaphorical. Sourdough is pretty much the best food metaphor created since the invention of the banana.

4: Is there anything faker than fake authenticity?

If one strand of the novel is expediency vs. experience, another is true authenticity vs. faux authenticity. Modern society is continually pushing for a more real, more natural experience, even at the expense of common sense (if in doubt, read about “raw water” here). But as Sloan highlights, the push for this is often driven by the marketing department.

The novel examines authenticity and the battle lines drawn between authentic and synthetic, paying particular attention to food. The novel juxtaposes traditional sourdough, a San Francisco institution that has used a culture of microbes to provide sustenance for decades, with synthetic, modified superfoods. Sloan asks: Is there a difference? And if so, why?

5: It will make you want to make bread!

Particularly sourdough. It’s impossible to read Sourdough without wanting to make bread. The richness of sourdough’s history and the genesis of its starter are fascinating. The way Sloan describes it, it’s impossible not to want to have a go at making it yourself. I highly recommend you do.

Much as Lois finds in the book, there is something deeply satisfying about creating something from scratch. Especially something as primal and life-giving as a loaf of bread.

So there are my five reasons for reading Sourdough. It’s a deliciously metaphorical novel that is more than worthy of your attention.

Sourdough can be found in the US and in the UK.

If you want to see my other 5 Reasons to Read posts, click here.

Sourdough Robin Sloan
‘Sourdough’ by Robin Sloan with sourdough by Robin Brooks. A commendable first loaf!

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Sourdough in order to write this review. 

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Ken Denmead <![CDATA[Geek Daily Deals Jan. 20, 2018: Height Adjustable Desk/Art Table for Kids; Awesome Arduino Robot Kit]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/geek-daily-deals-jan-20-2018-height-adjustable-desk-art-table-for-kids-awesome-arduino-robot-kit/ 2018-01-20T17:24:24Z 2018-01-20T17:24:17Z Reading Time: 2 minutes Geek Daily Deals on an adjustable desk/art table that will grown with your kids; build your own rolling arduino robot. Vivo Height-Adjustable Children’s Desk & Chair Sets: The problem with most kids furniture is that within a year or two of buying it, they may have outgrown it. These desk and […]

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Geek Daily Deals 012018 kids desk arduino robot kitGeek Daily Deals on an adjustable desk/art table that will grown with your kids; build your own rolling arduino robot.

Vivo Height-Adjustable Children’s Desk & Chair Sets:

The problem with most kids furniture is that within a year or two of buying it, they may have outgrown it. These desk and chair sets solve that problem by being designed to grown with your child.

The Vivo height-adjustable children’s desk and chair sets are ergonomically designed to help kids ages 3 to 10 sit comfortably, keep proper body positioning, and maintain good posture. The desk features a 26-by-19-inch adjustable top surface that can tilt from 0 to 40 degrees; a pull-out drawer to hold supplies; and a stopper to prevent accidental pinching of fingers when the desk is being tilted. The desk can be adjusted from 21 to 30 inches, while the chair can be adjusted from 12.5 to 17 inches. The set is easy to assemble and easy to move from room to room. The deluxe model features a touch lamp, embedded table box, cup holder, and book stand.

Vivo Children’s Height-Adjustable Desk & Chair – $99

  • PP-grade plastic with steel frame
  • Top surface tilts 0º–40º
  • Drawer
  • Stopper
  • Adjustable range, desk: 21–30 in (53–76 cm)
  • Adjustable range, chair: 12.5–17 in (31.7–43.2 cm)
  • Dimensions, top surface: 19 x 26 in (48 x 66 cm)

Vivo Deluxe Height-Adjustable Children’s Desk & Chair – $160

  • PP-grade plastic with steel frame
  • Top surface tilts 0º–50º
  • Drawer
  • Stopper
  • Touch lamp with 3 levels of brightness
  • Embedded table box for pens and pencils
  • Cup holder for storage
  • Metal book stand
  • Adjustable range, desk: 21–30 in (53–76 cm)
  • Adjustable range, chair: 12–17 in (30.5–43.2 cm)
  • Dimensions, top surface: 31 x 24 in (78.7 x 61 cm)

 

Check them out here on Massdrop!

 

Mega 2560 R3 4WD Robot Kit Bundle for Arduino:

Ready to do some cool robot building and programming with Arduino? This kit has everything you need to get rolling – literally!

Spur your creativity with this bundle for Arduino. Comprising the Sainsmart Mega 2560 Board, Sensor Shield V5, L298N Motor Controller, HC-SR04 Distance Sensor, and the mobile robot car, it’s loaded with technology to help you start experimenting even more with your Arduino. The MEGA 2560 Board contains everything necessary to support the microcontroller. Just connect it to a computer via USB or power it with the AC adapter. The new Sensor Shield V5 has the COM and I2C (IIC) ports separated so that both can be used simultaneously for maximum potential. You can also add the full-metal tank at checkout.

  • SainSmart Mega 2560
  • SainSmart Sensor Shield Module V5
  • SainSmart 4WD Drive Aluminum Mobile Car Robot Platform
  • SainSmart L298N Dual H Bridge DC Motor Driver
  • SainSmart Ultrasonic Module HC-SR04 Distance Sensor

Get a kit today for just $65 from Massdrop!

 

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Amy Weir <![CDATA[Judging ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ By Its Cover]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299634 2018-01-22T01:50:35Z 2018-01-20T17:00:50Z This week in her coverage of 'A Wrinkle in Time,' Amy compares book covers from across time and space.

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Reading Time: 10 minutes
A Wrinkle In Time cover art collage
‘A Wrinkle In Time’ cover art on a 55-year-trip through space-time. See individual covers below.

Today, we’re talking about the many, many covers of A Wrinkle In Time.

But first, let me backtrack.

I had this grand plan to countdown to the theatrical release of Disney’s new adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time by posting an article a week expounding on one point or another out of my favorite book. Last week I covered the science of the book, and I promised that this week I would have a great post on the genre. Naturally, massive technical difficulties then ensued in la Casa de Wrinkle-in-Time-Fanatic, throwing my plans into a tesseract.

So I’ll get back to that post on genre next week when I can pull all its molecules back together. In the meantime, let’s look at some pretty pictures.

Or not. Because that beat up hardcover of A Wrinkle in Time I pulled off the school library shelf in fourth grade was the ugliest book I’d ever seen, and the paperback I ordered from the Scholastic Book Club a year later wasn’t much better. It became my go-to example of the importance of Not Judging a Book By Its Cover.

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle, 1962 cover
Original Cover by Raskin, 1962, Farrar Straus & Giroux

I feel a little bad about that because that hardcover design was the supposedly beloved original, created by eventually-Newbery-Award-winning-author-in-her-own-right Ellen Raskin. In my defense, my school library’s copy did not look nearly that good. It had no dust cover, the black lettering was flaking, the binding color had faded to a puke green. It looked more like this:

A Wrinkle In Time, original cover uglified
Original cover, edited by me to look like I originally saw it. The best I could do with what I have, but that’s okay because it really was this ugly.

But I was a voracious reader, and I knew I’d never get my fill if I stuck only to the shiny new books in the library. I probably still wouldn’t have given this a second glance, because the title made me think of one of those slow, thoughtful books about an old lady telling some ungrateful kids about her hard youth. But we’d watched a filmstrip on Newbery Medalists a few weeks before, and this title had been suggested as something scary and somewhat mindblowing. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?” the filmstrip had said.

Im ready for whatever you can throw at me, filmstrip. But that cover there certainly didn’t give me any clue of the depths and heights the insides were about to take me to.

Nowadays, as a public children’s librarian, I have a lot less patience for bad book covers. Sure, there are kids like me, who are willing to take a chance on a horrible-looking book, but the majority of kids wouldn’t think of it. When I see a book in that condition, I’ll only keep it on the library’s shelves if a) it still gets checked out, or at least still has something to say to today’s kids and b) I can’t buy a newer edition in hardcover or library binding.*

A Wrinkle in Time has gone through many editions over the decades, some more clearly dated than others. Let’s see what each one tells us about the adventure inside!

Other Early Wrinkle Hardcovers

Ellen Raskin’s cover was the go-to for twenty years until multi-Caldecott-winning husband-and-wife team Leo and Diane Dillon drew this cover for the 1983 edition:

1983 Edition of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle, art by Leo and Diane Dillon
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1983

If my school librarian had only replaced that beat-up original when this one came out! The Dillon cover actually gives some idea of what might be inside: eerie landscapes, a fortune teller, three witchy ladies, and an ominous shadow. Granted, the three witchy ladies may not have eased my fear that this was about old people reminiscing, but there is enough else there to peak my interest. It leans more on the fantasy aspects than the science fiction ones—no way to figure out that a wrinkle in time is quantum physics related. And why doesn’t Meg have glasses? Personally, I don’t find this cover particularly appealing, either: it’s dark and the color choices are odd. But it wouldn’t turn me off from the book, and it would certainly do a better job of catching my attention than the original.

Meanwhile, this next edition pretty much petered out right away when they tried to release it in the UK after it kept winning awards in the US, which is odd because I would have been all over it:

A Wrinkle In Time, First UK Edition 1963
Original UK hardback, Constable Young Books 1963

It’s magical and quirky-spooky, and the font reminds me vaguely of 1960s Disney movies. Meg still isn’t wearing glasses, but I wouldn’t have known that was a problem before I read it, so I would have seen nothing to complain about. I would have lunged for it even if I hadn’t heard the title before. For today’s kids, though, it should probably be updated if I wanted it to fly off the library shelves. I was the kid who wasn’t afraid to pick up an old-looking book, but I was weird. It’s awesome-looking but still old.

Now, there are also fancy-bound collectible editions that aren’t quite practical enough for a public or school library, but for a home library? Best yet:

A Wrinkle In Time, Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2015
Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2015

This Barnes & Noble Collectible first-three-Time-books-in-one made me go, “Ooooo!” It looks good, and it somehow manages to balance the fantasy and science fiction elements. Too big for the library, but I don’t think the cover art would turn off most young readers if it was on something smaller.

Paperbacks Through the Decades

This was the cover staring at me when my book order came in during fifth grade:

A Wrinkle In Time Dell Laurel Leaf edition, 1976
Why, hello there, Man With the Red Eyes. Dell Laurel Leaf, 1976

Gah. I already knew I loved the book, but I didn’t even want to look at this cover. I read it with the cover curled up in my hand, and I put it away so I could only see the back cover. I survived. I still have this paperback, even, now thoroughly annotated as you can see. But I would have dearly desired a different cover if there had been one to buy. But this was before Amazon, and I lived nowhere near a real bookstore. This was all the school book orders offered in 1989.

Dell handled the paperback editions of A Wrinkle in Time for many years, putting it out through two different imprints: Laurel Leaf Fantasy, which published mass market paperbacks directed at people buying their own copies with their pocket change (or through their Scholastic Book Club orders), the covers appealing more to older readers, and Yearling, which published heavier-duty trade paperbacks for classroom use, directed at younger ones (or appealing to the adults who would make it available for them). Here’s the Yearling edition from the same time period:

Dell Yearling 1978 edition of A Wrinkle In Time
Dell Yearling, 1978

Much less scary. Of course, a little too less scary. Rainbows and a flying horse-creature! It must be a gentle and happy adventure through a magical land! I’m sure that would call out to a lot of potential readers who spot it on the shelf, but it’s giving them a false promise. Plus, nowadays? Yeah. Dated. It was even dated in 1989, had the book order offered it then.

If I had waited a couple more years to buy my own copy, I could have gotten this one instead:

Dell Yearling, 1991 edition of A Wrinkle In Time
Dell Yearling, 1991

This one absolutely appeals to upper-elementary-school me. It outright illustrates the story, and it’s showing me something I’ll like—fantasy and mystery and kids that look active in their plot. Meg is even wearing her glasses for once. But whether it’s still a good cover, I’m not sure I can objectively say. I grew up with this hyper-realistic book cover illustration style, so it gives me happy vibes. But it undeniably screams out “1991.” Ask anybody in their late-30s/early-40s. We recognize that style anywhere.

Laurel Leaf stuck with the realism for their next edition a few years later:

Dell Laurel Leaf. 1995 edition of a Wrinkle In Time
Dell Laurel Leaf. 1995

If I didn’t know better, I’d say this one was high fantasy, and the time wrinkling was to the ancient past. Nice, but not very indicative of the content. It’s funny how many of these covers go with the Mrs.-Whatsit-as-flying-centaur theme, when it’s such a small and not particularly plot-vital part of the book. She even looks slightly aquatic in the movie trailers, which will render all these marble-statue-like covers obsolete.

In college I spotted this one in the store:

Dell Yearling, 1998, edition of A Wrinkle In Time
Dell Yearling, 1998

OH MAN. That was the first Wrinkle cover I’d ever seen that I loved. I’m not sure what the egg imagery has to do with the story, but it’s so pretty I don’t care. I didn’t realize until writing this that this edition was drawn by Peter Sis, award-winning illustrator of grand books like The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain and Tibet: Through the Red Box, but also Fire Truck. Peter Sis’s Fire Truck is always a hit with three-year-olds. I’m not surprised this cover came from someone who’s made a name for themselves in illustration.

Anyway, in 2007, paperback rights for this reverted to Square Fish, an imprint under the same company as Wrinkle’s hardback home, Farrar Straus & Giroux. They immediately released two new editions:

Square Fish 2007 editions of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Square Fish, 2007, Trade on left, Mass Market on right

It’s funny, with a term like “mass market,” you’d think the version on the right would be more common, but I’ve never seen it in the wild. Maybe because it’s eh. It’s nice, but I just have questions. Why does a tesseract look like a rocket launch? Why does Charles Wallace have a scepter? Why does Calvin look so much like a Chamber of Secrets-era Rupert Grint? Why can I tell that much about him, but I can’t tell if Meg is wearing glasses? I like the shadow creeping into the upper right, but on the whole, eh.

On the other hand, the trade cover—which I do see frequently in both bookstores and libraries—has the opposite effect on me. At first glance I barely see it: it’s brown, it’s got indistinct little illuminations around the sides. But the more I look at it, the more I see—and appreciate—the details. Look at the expressions on the Mrs. Ws’ faces! Look at how each corner is a new scene! It’s not a design that jumps out from the shelves, but it rewards closer study.

Around the World

A Wrinkle in Time never took off in other countries to the extent it did in the United States, but the publishers did try. Less than a decade after the UK hardcover failed to take off, Puffin released this paperback version for the UK and Commonwealth:

1971 Puffin Paperback edition of A Wrinkle In Time
Puffin, 1971

I can’t find any information on the illustrator, but the style is similar to the UK hardback, and I love it. Why didn’t UK audiences take to it? Puffin tried again a couple decades later, with this cover that seems to appeal to adult science fiction readers, instead:

1995 Puffin edition of A Wrinkle In Time
Puffin, 1995

Kind of generic. Probably false advertising for those hardcore SF fans who’d be annoyed at the focus on kids and their social problems. But not entirely inaccurate.

Never mind, this is the cover Puffin is using nowadays, and I like it:

2014 Puffin edition of A Wrinkle In Time
Puffin, 2014

And people in the rest of the English-speaking world are finally discovering it, but that’s more likely because of word of mouth from people being friends across the internet (I am pretty sure that I am the librarian-friend Sophie refers to in this old Between-the-Bookends post about when she first discovered it) than a simple cover change.

The only foreign language edition I found in my perusing was this cute Chinese edition that seems to be inspired in part by Peter Sis’s cover, at least in the design of Mrs. Whatsit’s angelic form:

Chinese edition of A Wrinkle In Time
Ji Lin Wen Shi,2007: https://www.alibris.com/search/books/isbn/9787807025276?qwork=7319475

That and maybe The Little Prince. And I wonder why the moon is smiling? All the celestial bodies in this book seem angry if any emotion. But it’s super-cute, at any rate.

The Current State of A Wrinkle in Time Covers

The 50th Anniversary brought A Wrinkle in Time covers full circle, by updating Ellen Raskin’s original design for both hardcover and paperback editions:

50th Anniversary Editions of A Wrinkle In Time
Left, Farrar Straus & Giroux 2012; right, Square Fish 2012

I don’t think I realized the silhouettes are standing in different positions until I saw the hardback and paperback editions side by side. Oddly enough, for someone whose favorite color is blue, I like the orange of the hardback better (and yes, I made sure my public library had this edition). What you can’t see from the picture is that the paperback (my copy of which I actually won from a giveaway here on GeekMom) is actually a shiny foil print. It may have the same design as that ugly first edition I read, but this one nonetheless is pretty.

That same year, the publisher put out the graphic novel by Hope Larson, which we can’t not include:

A Wrinkle In Time, Graphic novel adaptation by Hope Larson, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2012
Graphic novel adaptation by Hope Larson, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2012

As I’ve mentioned before, my brain doesn’t work well with the graphic format. But because I know this book so well, for once I didn’t have to strain my brain trying to sort out new input when I read this one. It’s kind of like watching a movie adaptation of it, I thought to myself at the time.

And now there is a new movie adaptation. And a movie adaptation needs a movie tie-in cover.

A Wrinkle In Time Movie Tie In editions, l-r: Square Fish, 2017; Feiwel & Friends (Barnes & Noble exclusive), 2017; Puffin, 2018
Movie tie-In editions, l-r: Square Fish, 2017; Feiwel & Friends (Barnes & Noble exclusive), 2017; Puffin, 2018

I’m not sure about Disney sticking its name at the top left of the title, making it look like a novelization of their creation instead of a great novel in its own right. But otherwise, I like all of these, especially the first one, even if the palm trees seem wrong for a book actually set in Connecticut (what. I’m fine with the race bending and gender bending and centaur-like-angel-creatures-looking-aquatic-bending, but whyyyyyy does Hollywood feel the need to reset everything in California? They don’t even have seasons!). The sense of warping, the colors, Meg smack in the beam of light shining from the supposed time wrinkle in the logo? It’s gorgeous. I’m not sure why Barnes and Noble needed an exclusive cover that takes out most of those details. I’m surprised only the international edition actually looks like the movie poster, with the actors-in-character right up front—surprised, but not disappointed. That might sell more books (“Oh look! It’s Oprah!”), but it relegates Meg to one of many. Sure, you can’t clearly see her on the US edition, yet it makes her starring role much more pronounced.

My verdict? The 50th Anniversary hardback is the one I would purchase for the public library, with the Leo and Diane Dillon cover in second. But I think my personal favorite is the original UK cover. With all of these covers to choose from, which would catch your eye, and which best hints at what’s inside?


*And then I’ll put it on display and post a challenge, like, “Read this great book and then design a new cover for it that isn’t so abysmal!”

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Patricia Vollmer http://www.thevollmerfamily.com/MajorMom <![CDATA[What Happened to Youth Sports Just for Fun?]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299162 2018-01-20T21:41:48Z 2018-01-20T13:00:14Z GeekMom Patricia waxes boldly about her family's youth sports situation.

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Reading Time: 6 minutes
Youth Sports: What's the Right Parenting Goal?
We didn’t eat dinner at home as a family for 4 months out of the year, but seeing our kids out there getting exercise, building friendships, and learning teamwork was worth it! What happened? Image credit: Patricia Vollmer

Something sad happened in our family this month. My oldest son, a high school freshman, is about to give up on high school baseball—he became very disappointed when he found out that the team had started practicing months ago for spring season tryouts and he missed those opportunities. He loves baseball. He had visions of playing in high school for several years. As a mother, my heart is breaking for him. My husband and I are trying to convince him not to give up that quickly, but it’s becoming clear in our family that our seemingly laissez-faire attitude towards youth team sports is catching up to us… and biting us in the rear!

I know this is a blog about, well, geekier topics, but, in this case, I’m more venting here about wanting to support my sons; seeing them disappointed never sits well with me. I’m not an expert in youth sports by any stretch. I’m just a mom… with an opinion.

High School Sports in America… What Happened?

I caught my first hints of what’s become of youth team sports back in 2012, the year my sons decided to switch from playing community soccer to community baseball in Navarre, Florida. Many of you may not know this, but when it comes to youth baseball, Florida is a force to be reckoned with. I’m sure it’s related to the year-round baseball-friendly weather. Check out the College World Series, and see which schools routinely have teams in the tournament. Yep, the schools from warm weather states. The Southeast and Pac-12 conferences dominate.

Our sons had very good experiences in Florida, in that they played for teams with coaches that seemed to emphasize good sportsmanship, teamwork, and (most importantly) having fun. My oldest son’s team in 4th grade was absolutely amazing—the coach emphasized nothing more than doing one’s best, but the kids got along well and came out at the top of their age group.

My sons had friends and teammates who were taking private baseball lessons from former Major League Baseball players who had retired to the Florida Gulf Coast. I asked my sons if that was something they were interested in. My youngest answered “No” without hesitation, but my oldest asked a couple of follow-up questions:

“Is it expensive?”

“Around $50 per hour.”

“How far away would we have to drive?”

“We’d have to drive one hour each way to Panama City Beach.”

“Hmmm… no thank you, Mom.”

My sons were interested in other activities. They were in Cub Scouts, and our family enjoyed traveling and hanging out with our friends. Those things would have taken away from the time our sons spent at batting cages and practicing fielding. I didn’t press the issue. In 2012, I honestly didn’t think this would make a difference one bit.

I feel that the landscape of youth sports has changed quite a bit since I played community and high school sports in the late 1980s. I will concede that today there’s still an emphasis on sportsmanship, teamwork, and a healthy lifestyle, but something changed. Actually, several things changed and I can just let these linked articles speak for themselves:

All of this seems to suggest that if your kids were interested in things other than their one sport, then getting an NCAA scholarship or the more-elusive professional sports offer becomes more of a dream than it was a generation ago.

My sons have other interests. In fact, I’m writing this post in the auditorium of my youngest son’s regional orchestra rehearsal. I have an almost-Eagle Boy Scout. They’re in math club, Rubik’s Cube club, Science Olympiad, and the chess club. My youngest just signed himself up for his middle school’s new Dungeons & Dragons club. I don’t want to discourage this well-roundedness, and perhaps it will be at the expense of athletic success.

Our Nomadic Lifestyle

We are a military family. Our sons have played youth sports in three different states. Three different communities. Not long after we arrived in Florida in 2010, our sons joined a baseball league with teammates who had been playing together since tee-ball. My husband wasn’t in a position to help coach (he routinely stayed at work later than the times for the practices), and even though my sons wanted to perform as pitcher and catcher, they already had those positions established by those who were in that role for 3-4 years with that particular league already. Don’t get me wrong, we never felt unwelcome, but it was clear that my sons had to compete with “known quantities.”

In the middle of 2013, our military family transferred from Florida to Colorado. We moved to a neighborhood that fed into a pretty successful Little League organization. We were (again) “new” to the league. So bringing in my 8-year-old who played catcher in Florida didn’t work too well in Colorado, where the other catchers here were a known quantity. My son ended up a third-string catcher and otherwise was in the outfield. This was discouraging, and he ended up not wanting to play baseball the following season.

It was a good organization. No complaints there. However, par for the course is 4-5 days per week of practices, 2-3 games per week, and many “meetings” at privately-run batting cages to get extra practice time. The early sunsets also resulted in some additional fees to rent out indoor practice facilities until after Daylight Saving Time started. This is the norm. It’s what we do for our kids.

It was insane for our family. Maybe we’re square pegs in round holes, but running around not one but two sons, in two different age groups, all over the city for their practices and games was rough on our family dynamic. It was rough on our sons’ academics. It was rough on our sons’ diets (lots of Jimmy John’s sandwiches). It was rough on our sons’ sleep. They slept well, in that they were well-exercised from baseball, but there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that needed to occur around the baseball.

Are We Creating “Victims” of Modern Youth Sports?

In most circumstances, I am super-hesitant to consider myself, or my children, victims of “the system.” I usually want to see to it that we’ve done everything in our power on our end before I blame “the system.”

In this case, I think our family has done a lot, but I know for sure we haven’t done everything in our power for our sons to be on a glide path to the high school baseball team. We didn’t enroll our sons in year-round, all-weather travel leagues. We didn’t invest in private lessons. We didn’t move to the neighborhood with the best high school baseball team. Our sons didn’t beg us for these things either. A number of their friends do. Perhaps we’d have made some of those decisions differently if they were asking, but then again, maybe we wouldn’t have.

Parents want to do everything for their kids, right? In theory, I certainly do. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Because I teach at the undergraduate level, I’ve met several NCAA Division I athletes whose families have had the flexibility to relocate to give them the best opportunities at sports. This is particularly the case with warm-weather-friendly sports such as golf and tennis. But what if those families aren’t in a position to work around their kids’ sports schedules? Did we just crush their dreams?

What do the households with both working parents do?

What do the economically disadvantaged families do?

The answers to these questions exist: working parents negotiate carpooling, even for the interstate travel-teams, and scholarship programs often exist for the economically disadvantaged families, but it’s been proven that there’s still a boost in opportunities for those who can afford—in both time and money—the best of the youth sports programs. Those gaps’ impacts reach further than one might think: including into health, nutrition, and overall success in life.

I like to think our family is fortunate that our sons don’t have to worry as much about those things. Even in a household with two working parents, we have had the flexibility to handle most of what those sorts of sports schedules will throw at us. But not everyone does, and with the future of youth sports heading towards this more elite set of opportunities, I hope we parents, coaches, and sports league administrators will see the errors of our ways.

But my sons don’t want to be one-sport kids. They want a well-rounded life with a combination of sports, academics, and service to their community. I like to think my husband and I helped influence that decision…

…even if it means they’ll never be in Major League Baseball.

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Nivi Engineer <![CDATA[10 Stages of Jigsaw Puzzling]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299698 2018-01-19T19:41:56Z 2018-01-19T20:00:35Z There are distinct stages that accompany working on a jigsaw puzzle. For the benefit of my readers, I generously experienced them all, and have dutifully reported them. I hope you appreciate my sacrifice.

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Reading Time: 7 minutes
Image of not-quite complete 2000 piece Star Wars jigsaw puzzle
Image Credit: N Engineer

There are distinct stages that accompany working on a jigsaw puzzle. For the benefit of my readers, I generously experienced them all, and have dutifully reported them. I hope you appreciate my sacrifice.

2000 pieces. The picture on the cover of the box looks interesting, with plenty of different colors and shapes. It’s cold outside, so there will be plenty of time spent indoors, and what a great bonding activity to do with your kids (at least one of them, anyhow).

I began this particular jigsaw puzzle in December. I wanted to have something to turn to that would balance the chaos of end-of-school gifts, shopping, baking, and working through the never-ending checklist.

Stage 1: Denial

This won’t be so bad. I can totally do this. It’ll be fun. I can do something somewhat engaging with the kids (rather than zone out and read). It’ll be great!

Stage 2: Anger

Nobody else wanted any part of it, and oh god there’s so much football on television and there I am, taking up all this space on the dining room table. Nobody wants any part of it. We can’t even find all the edge pieces (and what kind of savage proceeds without first completing the border?!). Can’t someone just come over during the commercials? It’s not like you have to commit a lot of time. Why won’t anyone help me?!

And in one of those moments, I took it apart. It took three days before anyone even noticed! Stupid puzzle.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Maybe if I set it up at my in-laws’ house, where we usually do a puzzle over break, others will join in. Yeah, it won’t be so bad and will actually be fun. Fun, I say. Fun! Only, it barely got worked on. By the end of the holidays, when the kids were ready to return home and head back to school, we were nowhere close to completing the puzzle. It got disassembled. Again.

The following Friday, we had a snow day, so I told my 13-year-old to bring a puzzle out. Perfect time to work on the jigsaw puzzle, right? He brought out a different puzzle. A 500 piece one. We got it mostly done that day. Two days. That’s all the time it takes to do a normal sane person’s puzzle. Which means, if math is to be believed, it should take eight days to finish a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle, right? No. We started again with the 2000-piecer, and it’s still going. It feels like it will never end.

Stage 4: Depression

Six days in, and it feels hopeless. Nobody wants to do it. It’s like we’re just going through the motions. I had to yell at Thing 1 and Thing 3 to stop playing catch with the puzzle pieces. Instead, they got out some game token and a vase and proceeded to play some made-up version of catch while the dog ran back and forth between them. I kept plodding away at the jigsaw puzzle. How rudely they kept laughing, playing happily, not the slightest bit compelled to help finish this stupid puzzle with 2,000 stupid pieces. Instead, this jigsaws puzzle would sit here forever, and I, like Sisyphus, would spend the rest of eternity placing piece after piece within this never-ending puzzle. Never to have fun ever again.

Stage 5: Anger

And what’s the point of jigsaw puzzles? What am I even going to do with it when it’s done? Take a few minutes to appreciate the completed product, then break it apart and put it back in the box. If I wanted the completed picture, I’d buy a poster, not glue together and put up somewhere this symbol of relentless misery and wasted time. What a stupid pointless endeavor. I swear, I’m never doing another jigsaw puzzle again! They’re the evilest creation ever.

Nonetheless, I plod on. Angry, grumbling, reinforcing myself with chocolate covered pretzels or some other equally unadvisable snack since I’m not actually hungry but so what? Something’s gotta temper the rage that’s slowly stewing inside me.

Stupid piece, get in there. That’s right, you better fit. Yeah, I’m talking to the jigsaw puzzle. You got something to say about that?

Stage 6: Hysteria

I get a piece in. I fill in an empty spot, the figurative pimple of absence in an otherwise unblemished facade, and I clap. One more, and I cheer. Another piece, and I hoot. With each piece, the anger crumbles away and I give into giddiness. I will celebrate every small victory (side note: this is similar to being a Cleveland Browns fan; I now cheer every catch, every first down, every play where we don’t fumble the ball as if we’ve just won the Super Bowl, my own little version of “Appreciate the Little Things”). Never mind that the anger is a steep cliff and that the crumbling away under my feet can’t possibly lead to goodness. I don’t care anymore. I’m going to celebrate each and every piece whose home I find. This is no longer a leisure activity, this is a noble quest. I am a selfless puzzletarian, ignoring my own troubles to help 2,000 unfortunate jigsaw puzzle pieces find their homes. And I will not rest until there are no more homeless puzzle pieces. I ponder the appropriate playlist: “We Are the World,” “The Greatest Love of All,” and of course, “Come Together.” These songs blast through my head as I focus, push forward, looping again and again, knowing that one day soon (oh, god, it better come soon) we’ll fit the last piece in and I will blast the theme from Rocky on all the speakers in our house and run up the stairs with my arms and head held high.

Stage 7: Philosophy

The hysteria fades, and in its place, I ponder. Why do I do jigsaw puzzles? What compels me to torture myself in this way? What am I gaining? And the answer is right in front of me. I pick up a piece, look at it carefully, examine the colors, shape, and tiny details, then determine where it belongs. I use all my powers of perception to put it in its place. Sometimes I’m right, but not always. Many times, the piece surprises me, fits in somewhere completely different, turns out to be something I hadn’t even imagined. And no matter how much I wanted it to go in one place, it fits where it’s meant to fit. I can be angry or frustrated about it, but that won’t make one lick of difference in the end. My purpose is to get each piece where it needs to go. That’s it. Just to help the process along, because left alone, it’s not getting anywhere. The puzzle pieces in the box, they’re just resting, waiting.
I think of this first in terms of my novel-writing. That I go through these stages with the parts of my stories, but that my job is to find the connections that I didn’t realize were there all along, to be patient and let myself go through these emotional stages—all the way to the end—to get my novel where it needs to go.

But it turns out, it’s also a great metaphor for parenting. If the final puzzle is a picture of a well-rounded, well-adjusted adult offspring, then my job is to make sure all the pieces are there, and I can guide my children, but I can’t turn them into something they’re not. I will teach them to cook, do laundry, look out for each other, and manage money. I will drive them to sporting events, listen to them, teach them critical thinking, and help them learn who to turn to for help. I’ll be wrong sometimes, but that’s okay. I’ll just try again.

I look across the table at my 13-year-old, watch him attach another piece. And I smile. We’re not in this alone. There’s no great glory in finishing solo; help is always appreciated. And while some may wish to interfere—cause mischief by putting random pieces together incorrectly, for example—sometimes it’s nice to be together, and other times alone.

Heck, jigsaw puzzles can be a metaphor for life itself. Keep puzzling, feel free to restart, and if it all falls apart, the pieces are just waiting for you to put them back together. And when you’re done with one thing, there’s always another project to tackle.

Stage 8: Desperation

Yeah, that deep thinking fades. And then you’re still faced with an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. 2000 pieces! Only about a hundred pieces left. Gotta get them done. At this point, you’re testing the same piece in the same spot over and over, sure that it must be the right piece. It’s the right shape, after all. But no, it still doesn’t fit.

different shapes of puzzle pieces, perfect for sorting
Image Credit: N Engineer

You sort through the rest of the pieces, organize them by shape, convinced that the time you’re taking for this essential task is not time wasted… any more than doing the puzzle itself is a total, utter, absolute waste of time that you will never get back. Once again you want to take it all apart, break it up piece by piece, and pitch it into the far reaches of the universe, never to be seen or referred to again. But you’re so close, you can’t give up now. Your kids ask for something—a snack, a friend over, TV time—and you command them to put one piece into the puzzle before they get it. And you mean business. The puzzle must be finished, and what kind of family are you if you can’t pull together in these hard times to do what must be done? To their credit, they try but walk away before they (as you were hoping would happen) get gripped by that same desperate need to reach the finish line.

Stage 9: Acceptance

Meanwhile, the clock ticks on. The kids have school tomorrow, and we haven’t had dinner. Somehow, I get up, walk away from the table, and head to the kitchen. I sit with the family and eat, talking about this and that, and that whole time, the jigsaw puzzle is silent. It doesn’t call to me. I don’t hear it whining, whimpering, moaning. After dinner, I read to my son then kiss him goodnight. I return downstairs, where I walk past the puzzle and instead sit with my husband and watch a bit of television before bed.

In the morning, I get the boys to school and sit down to write. From where I sit, I can see the jigsaw puzzle. I know it beckons me, but that’s okay. It’s okay to take a break every once in a while, from whatever. Long enough so that when you get back to it, you can enjoy it. And that’s where I am now. Enjoying the process.

Stage 10: Glee

But I’ll confess. I’ll be unabashedly happy when it’s done and gone.

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gfnadmin <![CDATA[I Have a Theory Why the Nintendo Switch Is the Fastest Selling Game Console]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/i-have-a-theory-why-the-nintendo-switch-is-the-fastest-selling-game-console/ 2018-01-19T19:24:28Z 2018-01-19T19:24:10Z Reading Time: 3 minutes Earlier this month, it was announced that the Nintendo Switch hit U.S. sales of 4.8 million units in its first 10 months on the shelf. That surpasses the Wii for fastest selling game console in U.S. history. I’m pretty sure I know why… The Switch is starting to cut into my […]

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Earlier this month, it was announced that the Nintendo Switch hit U.S. sales of 4.8 million units in its first 10 months on the shelf. That surpasses the Wii for fastest selling game console in U.S. history. I’m pretty sure I know why…

NIntendo Switch sales
The Switch is starting to cut into my music listening and reading time… (Photo by Brad Moon)

The Nintendo Wii—which held the previous record with over 4 million units sold—was a video game console in the traditional sense. It added motion control, but it was still a box that stayed in front of your TV. My kids got one for Christmas when it was released, everyone took their turn (despite the inevitable squabbles), and all was good.

The Switch is different, though. It’s a game console, but one you can unplug from the TV and take with you.

As a parent, that portability complicates matters. There are a whole bunch of additional variables in the mix, all with the potential for conflict. Who gets the Switch during road trips? What happens if one of the kids wants to take it to a friend’s house? What happens if someone runs down the battery during their turn, and the next in line has no choice but to plug it in?

Foreseeing the battles that would result by treating the Switch as a traditional game console and buying just one, my wife and I caved and each of the kids received a Switch for Christmas.

What I didn’t count on was how that portable console would hook us as well. I don’t get nearly as much time as I used to for playing video games. I’m still working on Fallout 4 on the boys’ Xbox One. But the Nintendo Switch is ideal for short gaming sessions, and the portable form factor makes it easy to pick up and play whenever I have a few minutes. No fighting to get time on a TV, and virtual instant-on with minimal load times. The Switch is now starting to compete with some of my other favorite pastimes, like listening to music and reading.

NIntendo Switch sales
Pick-up-and-go portability makes Switch gaming tempting during my work coffee breaks. (Photo by Brad Moon)

Add in the fact that my wife is a long-time Zelda fan, and the results were inevitable. It took only three weeks after Christmas before we caved and bought a Switch for the parents. But at least we are sharing.

However, that makes this a four Nintendo Switch household, and I strongly suspect we aren’t the only ones who have bought more than one.

NIntendo Switch sales
TV, e-book, or quick Switch game before bed? That’s a tough one… (Photo by Brad Moon)

So while one of the key reasons for the record Switch sales is the excellence of the console and its games so far (that’s what got me hooked), I think another big reason is the fact that traditional game consoles tend to sell a single unit per household. The Switch was designed to make it attractive as a personal portable system as well as a console, and that makes it much more likely to sell multiple units per household, goosing those sales numbers.

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Ken Denmead <![CDATA[Geek Daily Deals Jan. 19, 2018: iPhone/Galaxy Induction Charger for $19; Magnetic Dry Erase Family Calendar for $11]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/geek-daily-deals-jan-19-2018-iphone-galaxy-induction-charger-for-19-magnetic-dry-erase-family-calendar-for-11/ 2018-01-19T16:25:57Z 2018-01-19T16:24:09Z Reading Time: 3 minutes Geek Daily Deals on an induction pad charger for your iPhone/Galaxy or other device; get a great dry-erase calendar for the family fridge. Anker Wireless Charger Charging Pad: First, let’s be nerds and be quite clear about the fact that “wireless” charging doesn’t mean you can stand anywhere in your room […]

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Geek Daily Deals 011918 induction charger magnetic dry erase calendarGeek Daily Deals on an induction pad charger for your iPhone/Galaxy or other device; get a great dry-erase calendar for the family fridge.

Anker Wireless Charger Charging Pad:

First, let’s be nerds and be quite clear about the fact that “wireless” charging doesn’t mean you can stand anywhere in your room and have your phone charged in the same way that wireless internet works. You still actually have to tether your device to a specific spot; it’s just a coaster you set it down on rather than a cord you plug into. That being said, induction charging is cool, and everyone’s doing it. But the ones the phone makers produce aren’t cheap. So, if you want one or more extras to have available around your home or office, this is a pretty good deal.

  • The Anker Advantage: Join the 20 million+ powered by our leading technology.
  • Faster Wireless Charging: Fast Charge Mode enables wireless charging up to 2⨉ faster. (Metal attachments or credit cards will interfere with charging.)
  • Premium Design: LED indicators, non-slip pad, and compact build ensure simple and convenient charging.
  • Advanced Safety Features: Exclusive MultiProtect technology provides temperature control, surge protection, short-circuit prevention, and more.
  • What You Get: Anker PowerPort Wireless 10 (Single-Coil Wireless Fast Wireless Charger), 3ft Micro USB cable (wall charger not included), welcome guide, our worry-free 18-month warranty and friendly customer service.

Get one today for just $19!

 

Dry Erase Monthly Calendar Set / Large Magnetic White Board & Grocery List Organizer For Kitchen Refrigerator:

Sure, having all our smart devices synced up via shared calendars and reminders is great for the modern, tech-savvy family, but sometimes actually writing stuff down and posting it where everyone will see it works even better. Here’s a classic dry-erase blank calendar with a magnetic back so it can stick to the side of your refrigerator where everyone will notice it at least once a day.

  • GOOD-BYE CHAOS & MISSED APPOINTMENTS – Hello order for 2018! Designed for busy lives and clear communication at a glance. Quickly see your day, week or month in one organized place. Extra large spaces for planning all your family activities. In no time, you’ll have them wondering, “How does she do it all?”
  • CONVENIENCE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS – No more scrambling for a marker. Included are six fine point markers with magnetic caps. Stick ‘em to your fridge for immediate access. The eraser completely wipes away past events without staining, so go ahead; -jot down memos & plans with total confidence!
  • KNOW YOUR SCHEDULE INSTANTLY – Big boxes and a section for notes, means space for important dates, reminders or even a weekly menu. Use the grocery list to add items as you need them. You’ll feel confident you won’t forget a big time event or appointment!
  • KEEP YOUR FAMILY ON TRACK – With strong, flexible, magnet backing, our whiteboard calendar sticks where no one can miss it…THE KITCHEN FRIDGE! Everyone will know where they need to be and when. And it’s the perfect size to fit every refrigerator.
  • TEACH SMART HABITS – Teach your kids the value of communication, planning ahead & showing up on time. Made of premium materials, our 17 X 13 calendar makes it easy to always be a step ahead of your schedule. Plus, with no ghosting or staining, you can keep planning day after day, year after year!

Get one today starting at just $11!

 

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gfnadmin <![CDATA[Re-Roll: This Week’s Tabletop Game News for Week 3 of 2018]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/re-roll-this-weeks-tabletop-game-news-for-week-3-of-2018/ 2018-01-19T11:24:16Z 2018-01-19T11:24:07Z Reading Time: 3 minutes The board game (and board game-related!) news that caught our attention for the week ending January 19, 2018. Did you see CMON’s Kickstarter trailer for Hate? (Not linking because it’s very NSFW.) Were you as dumbstruck as we were? This week’s image is from Meeple Circus. Three rings of fun! Gen […]

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The board game (and board game-related!) news that caught our attention for the week ending January 19, 2018.

  • Did you see CMON’s Kickstarter trailer for Hate? (Not linking because it’s very NSFW.) Were you as dumbstruck as we were?
  • This week’s image is from Meeple Circus. Three rings of fun!
  • Gen Con registration is now open! Go get your badges before they sell out!
  • Star Wars Legion grows closer and closer. This week, we get a look at the T-47 Airspeeder and the AT-ST. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’m that interested in playing, but I surely want some of this stuff for my desk.
  • Scythe is coming to Steam soon (PC only) and, naturally, there’s a trailer for it. Check it out:
  • The new Century: Spice Road game, Century: Golem Edition, will be hitting retailers in Q2. While using the same mechanics as Spice Road, Golem Edition will have entirely new artwork and components. The game will retail for $39.99
  • I like small games. They’re just easy to carry and, better yet, you can carry a few of them. However, sometimes you just want to go big. And not just big, HUGE. Later this year, you’ll be able to play Codenames XXL, with cards that are double the size of regular cards. It’ll be perfect for big groups and those of us who, ahem, need help with aging eyes. This will be the same size as the in-store promo kit Czech Games did last year.
  • Plaid Hat has a video overview (below) and a release date, February 1, for Stuffed Fables, the “Storybook Adventure” game. We are pretty excited for this one!
  • IDW announced an X-Files game, The X-Files Conspiracy Theory: Everything is Connected. You’ll play as Fox Mulder in the story-telling game, trying to construct a plausible theory that will impress his FBI overlords.
  • What’s coming soon? One of my favorite games from the last couple of years is Valeria Card Kingdoms (read our review). That game gets its fourth expansion, Peasants and Knights.
  • Renegade Games will be releasing Dokmus next week, an abstract-y puzzle that will test your strategy and tactics. As you play, the board changes and moves. Look for a review from us soon.
  • Bezier Games will bring us Palace of Mad King Ludwig, a new stand-alone game and a long-awaited follow-up to the 2014 hit, Castles of Mad King Ludwig.
  • Finally, Warlord Games has Dalek minis on the way. They are additions to their Doctor Who miniatures game, Exterminate!, but go ahead and grab one for your fireplace mantle or bookshelf. We won’t tell!

At GeekDad, we write a lot about tabletop games. Here’s what we’ve written about this past week:

Finally, here’s what some of the GeekDad Crew has been playing this week:

  • Jonathan Liu: Lovecraft Letter, Codenames Disney, Millennium Blades, Tiny Epic Zombies (prototype), Ancestree, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, Pandemic, Apocrypha Adventure Card Game
  • Michael Harrison: Roll Player, Roll Through the Ages
  • Robin Brooks: Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
  • Simon Yule: Risk Legacy, Mascarade, D&D Curse Of Strahd
  • Gerry Tolbert: Gloomhaven
  • Dave Banks: Dokmus, Sticky Chameleons, Explorers of the North Sea, Castell, Deep Sea Adventure, Outpost: Siberia

Click through to read all of “Re-Roll: This Week’s Tabletop Game News for Week 3 of 2018” at GeekDad.

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- Read the Full Post on GeekDad

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Corrina Lawson http://www.corrina-lawson.com <![CDATA[7 Reasons You Must Watch CW’s ‘Black Lightning’]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299631 2018-01-22T01:51:03Z 2018-01-18T23:00:58Z 'Black Lightning' premiered on the CW on Tuesday. You need to watch. Because it's that good.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes
Black Lightning, CW show
Cress Williams as Black Lightning. Image copyright CW.

As I sat down to watch Black Lightning on the CW on Tuesday night, I felt the same mix of emotions I usually do when watching superheroes translated to live action. I love that the characters I love are getting more exposure. But I worry that the adaptations will alter them beyond recognition or, just as bad, that the quality of the production will not be up to par.

So far, I’ve only loved two opening television adaptions of superhero works: Jessica Jones and Daredevil.

Now I had to add Black Lightning to the list. Yes, it was that good, from the moment it started with words that were in the first comic book:

Justice, like fear, will ever appear to some men hope and other men fear.

I had that line memorized from reading the comic over and over as a kid. I had chills run down my spine when they were unexpectedly spoken at the beginning of the show.

So while I was familiar and liked Jessica Jones and Daredevil in the comics, I loved Black Lightning as only a person who falls in love with a character as a child can love them.

But if you’ve never heard of Black Lightning, should you still watch?

YES.

Here are seven reasons why:

Black Lightning’s Premise Is Topical

I’m a white woman. I cannot truly judge how well the show portrays black characters and situations. However, this is a show where two of its four executive producers–Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil–are black, along with executive producers Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. Own voices reviews of the show have been enthusiastic, such as this one on BlackNerdGirls.

The premiere episode begins with Jefferson Pierce driving his daughters, one in graduate school, one a high school senior, and then being stopped by police. In a harrowing sequence, Jefferson tries to hold onto his temper as he’s ordered out of the car, handcuffed, and brutally handled with no explanation. At the same time, he’s yelling at his daughter to relax, to cooperate, to chill, even while he has no idea what the police want and why he’s been handcuffed.

It turns out that police were looking for someone who robbed a liquor store and the only description they had was “black male.” Jefferson releases his anger, briefly, as he knocks out the electricity on the police car and the light overhead but he lets it go and regains control.

But only briefly. Because even though Jefferson is already a hero to the community, having led a revitalization of the local high school, an oasis for its students, he soon has to become Black Lightning again in order to save his younger daughter from the consequences of not realizing what “fun” can lead to in this unsafe community.

That leads to another confrontation with the police and it does not go well for them this time.

Cress Williams Is Perfect as Black Lightning

Halfway through the first episode, I turned to my husband and said “Who is this guy? He is so good. Where has he been in all this time?”

Williams is the quintessential “Wait, I know that guy from… hmm… that thing.” He’s had a long career, beginning in 1993 on Beverly Hills 90210 to Nash Bridges and, most recently, in Hart of Dixie and Code Black. He’s definitely earned a true starring role and he makes this most of it in this show, imbuing Jefferson Pierce with charisma, humor, intelligence, regret, and simmering anger. He commands the show from the moment he’s on screen. He makes you care about Jefferson Pierce and agonize for the choices he must make.

The Pierce Sisters

Black Lightning CW
Superhero to be: Thunder (Anissa Pierce) Image copyright CW

Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain), and Anissa Pierce (Nafessa Williams) avoid what I’ve taken to calling the CW superhero curse, where the women are given little to do save support the men, a problem that was particularly notable for Iris West on The Flash.

Not so Jennifer and Anissa. Even in the first episode, we’re given insight into their hopes and dreams, their goals, and their personalities. Jennifer is the smart but impetuous one, always wanting to push boundaries, and Anissa is the smart and studious one, more careful of possible consequences to her actions. But she stands up for what she believes in as well, protesting against the 100’s gang stranglehold on her city. Both of them are destined to become superheroes with powers and the show promises to be as much about their origins as about Jefferson Pierce reclaiming his superhero identity.

Complex Worldbuilding

It took until the episode was over to realize that I’d been spared yet another superhero origin story of the hero learning how to use their powers and deciding to use them for good. Instead, we’re dropped into a world where Jefferson decided his powers weren’t the way to help people and that his moonlighting was hurting his family. This is a story of a man rising up again after he’d put it behind him. The flash memories (they’re too short to be called flashbacks) fill us in on just enough of why Black Lightning was retired. The Pierce sisters will likely get some of the origin portion of the story but that should be in concert with working with each other and their father.

And in this one episode, we visited the high school, the police station, a club that is a front for the 100, a local youth program that is a front for selling drugs, and a seedy motel where all sorts of criminal business takes place. And the show fills all these places with interesting characters, giving us a glimpse of the complexity of this community. Even the conversations go back to the worldbuilding, such as Jefferson’s rejection of a proposal to install metal detectors in his school.

Excellent Supporting Characters

Remember Inspector Henderson from the Superman stories, including the television show? He’s been race-bent for Black Lightning, now played by Damon Gupton. He’s just one of many characters who are on scene for a short time and make an impression. There’s also Peter Gambi (James Remar), Jefferson’s mentor who serves as his father figure, someone who feels that the city needs Black Lightning.

We saw little of the main villain, Tobias Whale, but what was seen was chilling. Even more chilling was the performance of William Catlett as Lala, the man in charge of the 100’s drug program. The scene in which he tries to “teach” and then terrifies a kid working for him made an immediate impression.

In short, the cast is uniformly good with meaty characters to play.

The Music

This music absolutely fits the story, a pounding driving soundtrack that is already available digitally. It heightens the emotions, from the opening sequence in the rain to the club scene.

Action Sequences

Action is one thing the Berlanti shows have always done well but the set pieces in the premiere may have topped them all, especially what broke out at the club after Jefferson gave the guard a chance for “the easy way” and that ended with yet another confrontation with police who suspected him just because he was black.

But it’s the final action sequence that sticks in my head, as Black Lightning, out to rescue his daughters, comes into the opening, taking on all comers at the hotel, and holding the main culprit in the air with his lightning powers.

This is not a man to mess with. Ever.

But this is a show you should be watching.

Missed the premiere and want to catch up before episode 2? It’s streaming on the CW.

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Ken Denmead <![CDATA[Geek Daily Deals Jan. 18, 2018: “The Evil Within 2” Videogame for $20; Digital Angle Finder for $14]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/geek-daily-deals-jan-18-2018-the-evil-within-2-videogame-for-20-digital-angle-finder-for-14/ 2018-01-18T15:54:02Z 2018-01-18T15:53:55Z Reading Time: 2 minutes Geek Daily Deals on The Evil Within 2 videogame for PS4 and XBox One, for just $20; get a digital protractor for finding and setting angles easily. The Evil Within 2: Are you a fan of videogames that delivery jump scares and keep you on the edge of your seat? This […]

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Geek Daily Deals 011818 evil within 2 videogame digital angle finderGeek Daily Deals on The Evil Within 2 videogame for PS4 and XBox One, for just $20; get a digital protractor for finding and setting angles easily.

The Evil Within 2:

Are you a fan of videogames that delivery jump scares and keep you on the edge of your seat? This is a great deal on the next chapter on the popular series. Available for PS4, XBox One, and PC.

  • Story of Redemption – Return to the nightmare to win back your life and your daughter.
  • Discover Horrifying Domains – Explore as far or quickly as you dare, but prepare wisely.
  • Face Disturbing Enemies – Survive encounters with sadistic enemies and twisted creatures.
  • Choose How to Survive – Attack from the shadows, run like hell, or go in guns-blazing with very limited ammo.
  • Visceral Horror and Suspense – Enter a world filled with anxiety-inducing thrills and disturbing moments.

Get it today for just $20!

 

GemRed 82305 Digital Angle Finder:

Are your kids taking geometry? Are you doing any kind of drawing, designing, or layout for your garden, home renovations, or even developing your own RPG maps? These digital protractors/rulers are perfect for getting the right angles (and right angles) every time! Many options available, so check the drop-down selector to see the range of products

  • Ruler and protractor combination for easy measuring. Durable stainless steel body provide years’ using. Total length 600mm.
  • Accuracy ±0.3°; resolution 0.1°. Working temperature: -10 ℃~+50℃. Applied for defferent fields.
  • Quick and clear digital readout. Zeroing at any angle for relative measuring.
  • Locking screw for holding any angle.
  • Working more than 2000 hours with one piece of CR2032 coin battery(included).

Get one today starting at just $14!

 

Did you miss yesterday’s deals?

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Patricia Vollmer http://www.thevollmerfamily.com/MajorMom <![CDATA[That Moment You Realize Your Teen Sons Can Watch ‘Dunkirk’ With You]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299591 2018-01-20T16:30:51Z 2018-01-18T13:00:01Z Could our teenage sons handle Dunkirk? After all, a teenager loses his life, and I have to admit I was pretty anxious when I left the theater in July.

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Reading Time: 4 minutes
Dunkirk movie poster
I discovered I can watch Dunkirk with my sons.

Wow. It was seven years ago this week that I first started writing for GeekMom.

Wow.

It was within a few months of the blog’s launch. The group of us was smaller and much of our content consisted of long-form essays about parenting while sharing our geeky passions. I enjoyed writing in that style immensely.

I leaped right in in January 2011 with stories of my then-8- and 6-year old sons. Stories of their toys, their birthday parties, their favorite shows, their favorite books, and our family’s cosplay adventures.

As my sons grew up, my writing about their lives became fewer and farther between. Many things happened: I got a full-time job, my sons became less interested in toys, and my sons became less interested in talking to their parents quite so much. My writing shifted focus to reviews and geeky news announcements, rather than essays about my parenting experiences.

My sons are now 15 and almost-13. They’re essentially full-fledged teens: eating a Costco-shopping-trip’s worth of groceries every week, outgrowing their clothing faster than I can keep up, and interacting with Dad and Mom mostly to ask for money or a ride to sports, Scouts, or a friend’s house.

Wow. Where did the time go?

Wow. How did I become the shortest member of the family?

Wow. I just took my oldest son out for his first driving lesson this week!

One of the things I am excited about with teenage sons is being able to up the ante on frank discussions about history, current events, and other tough topics.

This past weekend we enjoyed somewhat of a World War II movie marathon. I don’t think it’s come up in my writings, but I am definitely a war movie geek, with films such as Zulu, Patton, and Twelve ‘o Clock High among my favorite movies in the world.

First, we watched Dunkirk, set in May 1940, and then, on a whim, we found the 2005 film Downfall on Showtime on Demand, a film set in April 1945.

My husband and I had seen Dunkirk in theaters on a date night in July, in a large part due to GeekDad Dave’s “10 Things” review. The movie is not overtly graphic or bloody, but the combination of music and suspenseful cinematography will still leave you pretty spooked…almost shellshocked.

Could our sons handle it? After all, a teenager loses his life, and I have to admit I was pretty anxious when I left the theater in July.

My oldest son, an aviation geek, was very interested in Dunkirk’s amazing dogfight scenes, and the rest of the film ended up capturing his attention pretty solidly. My youngest son peppered us with questions about the real Battle of Dunkirk. Both boys tried to fit the Dunkirk operation into the bigger picture of what they had learned about World War II so far:

“Was this before or after Pearl Harbor?”

“Before, by about 1 1/2 years.”

“So there probably weren’t any Americans stuck on the beach?”

“Probably not. There were some aviators in an advisory role starting in 1940, but not many.” (According to Wikipedia, the some U.S. aviation squadrons began flying with the RAF in the second half of 1940, after the Dunkirk evacuation.)

“How many boats did they need to help move all those soldiers across the English Channel?”

<Googles> “It appears to be around 850, according to Wikipedia.”

Our family then discussed the Dunkirk operation in a larger context, including how the Germans had a chance to regroup, overrun Paris, and ultimately conquer France by the end of June 1940.

Later that evening, my husband decided to start the movie Downfall, which is a film about Adolf Hitler’s last days. Everyone in the house has seen numerous memes in which the subtitles of the film are changed out to fit whatever you like, so we figured it’d be interesting to see the movie whence the meme originated. Enjoy one of my personal favorites of those memes:

Wow. That movie — in its original un-memed form — is NOT for the faint of heart! My sons did a great job keeping up with the subtitles. The movie is actually more graphic than Dunkirk, in that it shows Nazis taking their lives at the very end, and there are even multiple scenes where some prominent Nazi families take their children’s’ lives.

That was tough to watch. 

More questions ensued:

“What happened to Germany after Hitler died?”

“Was he really that crazy?”

“Were they really partying like that in the bunkers while everyone else died in bombings?”

“How were Japan and Italy involved?” <We will approach the Japan question later this year. See below.>

Even now, I’m not completely sure if my sons are old enough to have seen Downfall. I was perfectly okay with Dunkirk, for some reason. Both movies are accounts of history; one might argue that both movies are accounts of history that we don’t like to talk about. But it’s worth exploring just the same.

Later this year, my family is planning a trip to Hawaii. While we definitely plan to spend most of our time on the beach, at the top of the sightseeing list is a trip to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Ford Island, and Pearl Harbor. This will invariably start conversations about the Pacific theater battles of World War II. The much-less-refined side of the war. The amazing stories of resilience in horrific conditions that can be shown in the miniseries The Pacific, and films such as Unbroken.

My sons are growing up. They’re asking tough questions. They’re seeing some big changes occurring in our country…in our world. They worry about whether the U.S. is heading to war soon.

As I had said in my very first post with GeekMom seven years ago: In our house we don’t dilute the Kool-Aid. When my sons ask questions, my husband and I want to present them facts and try to help them frame opinions on their own…even if they aren’t the same opinions their parents have.

Click through to read all of "That Moment You Realize Your Teen Sons Can Watch ‘Dunkirk’ With You" at GeekMom.

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gfnadmin <![CDATA[GeekDad Daily Deal: The Computer Hacker Professional Certification Bundle]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/geekdad-daily-deal-the-computer-hacker-professional-certification-bundle/ 2018-01-17T19:53:50Z 2018-01-17T19:53:43Z Reading Time: 1 minute Clear a path to a new career with today’s Daily Deal, the Computer Hacker Professional Certification Bundle. With over 60 hours of prep for CISM, CISA, and other certification exams these five courses will cover what you need to know to be an ethical hacker. Keep your company safe from things […]

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Reading Time: 1 minute

Reading Time: 1 minute

Clear a path to a new career with today’s Daily Deal, the Computer Hacker Professional Certification Bundle. With over 60 hours of prep for CISM, CISA, and other certification exams these five courses will cover what you need to know to be an ethical hacker. Keep your company safe from things like Trojans, backdoors, viruses, worms, and DOS attacks and understand how to develop an information security strategies that work. And, there’s a lot more but you’ll just have to check out the details by clicking the link above.

Be sure to check GeekDad’s section called GeekDad Deals. Throughout the week we will offer new deals on cool stuff. These deals have limited lifespans, so keep checking back. Also, create an account and sign up for our newsletter at https://deals.geekdad.com/sign_up or follow our Store RSS Feed at https://deals.geekdad.com/feed.

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- Read the Full Post on GeekDad

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Ken Denmead <![CDATA[Geek Daily Deals Jan. 17, 2018: 20-Pack of Reusable Meal Containers for $13; Lenovo Tablets $600 and Up]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/geek-daily-deals-jan-17-2018-20-pack-of-reusable-meal-containers-for-13-lenovo-tablets-600-and-up/ 2018-01-17T16:23:52Z 2018-01-17T16:23:42Z Reading Time: 2 minutes Geek Daily Deals on a 20-pack of dishwasher safe, BPA-free reusable meal containers for daily lunches and leftovers; or save big on Lenovo touch-screen tablet computers. 20-Pack of 32 Ounce, 2-Compartment Food Containers Made of Durable BPA-Free Plastic; Reusable, Microwave & Dishwasher Safe w/ Airtight Lid: Families need to save money, […]

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Geek Daily Deals 011718 food containers lenovo tabletsGeek Daily Deals on a 20-pack of dishwasher safe, BPA-free reusable meal containers for daily lunches and leftovers; or save big on Lenovo touch-screen tablet computers.

20-Pack of 32 Ounce, 2-Compartment Food Containers Made of Durable BPA-Free Plastic; Reusable, Microwave & Dishwasher Safe w/ Airtight Lid:

Families need to save money, and one way to do that is to take your lunches (probably leftovers of that awesome meal from the night before) to work or school rather than paying. Why not take a step up from the cheap-plastic stuff you get at grocery (which won’t survive more than one or two washings), and get a couple sets of these reusable meal containers?

  • FAST AND EASY SOLUTION FOR: 20-pack of complete (20 sets, tops and containers) bento boxes.
  • MICROWAVE AND DISHWASHER SAFE AND BPA FREE: Certified and tested in a lab as being food safe materials!
  • TAKE YOUR HEALTHY LIFESTYLE EVERYWHERE: Sturdy and conveniently sized, you can take your containers in your for pre-portioned meals.
  • SAVE TIME, MONEY, AND SPACE: Reusable and strong enough to be dishwasher safe, affordable enough to dispose of during your busy day.
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: Misc Home sells the best quality products at the best price and we guarantee it.

Get one set today for just $13!

 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet, 12″ Full-HD+ IPS Touchscreen w/Active Pen:

Is it time to step up your portable computer game? Or does your kid need a new machine for school? Maybe it’s already time to start thinking about a graduation gift, or equipment for college? These deals on Lenovo X1 computers with touchscreens and active pens are a great solution. Details below are for the baseline model, which starts at $600, but higher-spec’d models are available.

  • Get reliable performance from the Intel Core m5-6Y57 processor 1.1GHz (Burst up to 2.8GHz) 4MG Cache
  • 4GB 1866MHz LPDDR3 (on-board) memory, with a microSD card slot that supports up to 64GB, 128GB M.2 Solid State Drive
  • Enjoy a 12” Screen with Portable Entertainment with a Stunning Display: Whether for work or leisure, the high resolution 2K (2160 x 1440) display features widescreen IPS technology and an integrated, adjustable kickstand for viewing from any angle. With the integrated speakers and Dolby® surround sound technology, the X1 Tablet is perfect for watching videos.
  • ThinkPad Keyboard Perfection: The X1 Tablet features the detachable keyboard with the legendary ThinkPad design. The built-in TrackPoint and trackpad replicates the feel of our award-winning keyboard that’s been perfected over more than 20 years.
  • With the detachable keyboard snapped into place, the X1 Tablet is only 1.1 kg / 2.4 lbs.
  • Business Ready: The X1 Tablet is available with robust security features like Touch-Sensor Fingerprint Reader and Discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) for encryption. Remote manageability features are also available, including Intel® vPro and Active Management Technology (AMT).
  • Windows 10 Pro

Get one today starting at just $600!

 

Did you miss yesterday’s deals?

Geek Daily Deals Jan. 16, 2018: Powerful Mini Travel Iron for $15; Slip-on Traction Cleats for Ice and Snow

 

SUPPORT US WITH YOUR ONLINE SHOPPING

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Sophie Brown <![CDATA[3 Ice-Themed Tabletop Games for Chilly Days]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299383 2018-01-22T01:51:21Z 2018-01-17T13:00:22Z Some of us in the northern hemisphere may have already had too much snow and ice for one year, but for those who haven't, here are three very different ice-themed tabletop games for you to play while you avoid the real thing outside.

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Reading Time: 7 minutes
Cool Games for Chilly Days Featured, Image: Sophie Brown
Cool Games for Chilly Days Featured, Image: Sophie Brown

Some of us in the northern hemisphere may have already had too much snow and ice for one year, but for those who haven’t, here are three very different ice-themed tabletop games for you to play while you avoid the real thing outside.

Sundae Split, Image: Foxtrot Games
Sundae Split, Image: Foxtrot Games

Sundae Split

The first of the three ice-themed tabletop games is the one with the most tenuous link to ice – Sundae Split. In this short card game from Foxtrot Games, players attempt to create yummy ice cream sundaes filled with delicious, points-scoring combinations of items while avoiding vegetables, because nobody wants to find broccoli in their banana split.

Sundae Split can be played by between two and five players, and the size of the deck is determined by how many people are playing each game. During each round, one person is the Splitter. That person draws a hand of between 6 cards for a two-player game, and 13 cards for a five-player game. The Splitter then splits their hand into piles so there is one pile for each player. The rules dictate how many cards in the piles must be face up and face down, but these can be assigned any way the Splitter likes.

Sundae Split, Image: Sophie Brown
A player’s hand at the end of the game, and the Splitter deciding how to split the cards, Image: Sophie Brown

Once the Splitter has split the hand how they like, the other players get to choose which of the piles they want. The Splitter may have hidden vegetable cards face down in piles, or they may have played them face up to discourage others from selecting a specific pile which contains a card the Splitter desperately needs for themselves, choosing to take the penalty hit in order to get that card. Once all players have chosen their pile and revealed it, the round is over and the next player becomes the Splitter. Rounds continue until the deck is empty.

At the end of the game, final scoring takes place using the following rules. The game comes with a helpful scoring pad to help you work through each item.

  • Bananas: All players with the most bananas score 10, all players with the second-most bananas score 5.
  • Cherries: Take the ice cream flavor you have the most scoops of, and multiply that number by the number of cherries you have.
  • Flavors: Three points for each complete set of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
  • Sprinkles & Whipped Cream: Score five points for each set; one of these cards without the other scores nothing.
  • Ice Cream Scoops: Add the numbers on all ice cream scoop cards.
  • Vegetable Penalty: Subtract the amounts shown on any vegetable cards from your final score.
    The player with the most points at the end is the winner.
Using the included sheets to work out final scores, Image: Sophie Brown
Using the included sheets to work out final scores, Image: Sophie Brown

Sundae Split is similar to Sushi Go but allows one player to split up the hands of cards instead of all the players splitting gradually and passing their cards along. This does mean the game has a significant amount of downtime. When you are not the Splitter, you have nothing to do but sit and wait for the Splitter to decide how to split the cards, a potential issue for less patient kids. It also means that during a game, you have very little influence over your result. You only get to split the deck once, and in that round, you have to wait for the other players to have chosen before you receive the final pile. In all other rounds, you can only choose from whichever piles remain when play gets to you. For those who enjoy a lot of luck in their games, this won’t be a problem, for those who prefer plenty of thinking and strategy, this is more likely to be an exercise in frustration.

We enjoyed Sundae Split, my eight-year-old son finding it especially hilarious when he managed to sneakily palm off his vegetable cards to myself or my husband. The game is quick, easy to understand, and takes up very little space, which also makes it ideal when travelling. It isn’t the most brain-taxing of games, but if you’re looking for something fun, fast, and easy to throw in your purse to play at a restaurant or on the train, this will be ideal.

Dicey Peaks, Image: Calliope Games
Dicey Peaks, Image: Calliope Games

Dicey Peaks

Next up in my list of ice-themed tabletop games is Dicey Peaks. This is a mountain climbing game in which players compete to climb Dicey Peak and be the first to the summit while avoiding avalanches and yeti attacks. The game has some similarities to Zombie Dice with dice rolling and risk-taking as key elements of gameplay.

The board for Dicey Peaks is made up of 21 tiles arranged in a triangle shape which leads to the summit. Players move along each layer of the mountain from left to right, rolling dice from a pool to decide whether to climb, or rest and refill their oxygen tank. Rolling pickaxe symbols allows you to climb that many spaces up the mountain, while tent symbols allow you to refill your oxygen tank by the same number. If you try to climb more spaces than your available oxygen you’ll hyperventilate, and if you try to overfill your oxygen canister it will burst. This is referred to as busting and it can also happen by rolling three avalanche symbols or three yeti paws. Busting causes you to lose your turn and play passes to the next player.

Dicey Peaks Starting Set Up, Image: Sophie Brown
Dicey Peaks Starting Set Up, Image: Sophie Brown

Whenever a player lands on a new tile, they flip it over and follow the instructions. This can cause you to move backward or forward along the mountain path, receive bonus oxygen or lose it. Mercifully, there are also some tiles on which nothing at all happens. There are more tiles in the box than are used in a game, so only a random selection are used in any one game, making it much harder to predict which tiles may be left to turn over.

Yellow has won this game of Dicey Peaks by landing on the correct summit tile, Image: Sophie Brown
Yellow has won this game of Dicey Peaks by landing on the correct summit tile, Image: Sophie Brown

The summit is always made of the three same tiles, only one of which shows the victory flag. A player reaching the summit gets to choose which tile to flip and if they find the red flag, they are the winner. If not, they have to wait there and hope another player doesn’t also reach the summit and flip the correct tile before their next turn. Players cannot replenish their oxygen at the summit so if you run out before flipping the correct tile, you’re out.

The three colors of dice in Dicey Peaks, Image: Sophie Brown
The three colors of dice in Dicey Peaks, Image: Sophie Brown

Dicey Peaks is a great family game that introduces some basic strategic elements and balances them against a healthy amount of luck. As with Zombie Dice, different colored dice have higher percentages of certain symbols; dark blue dice favor resting, white dice favor climbing, and light blue is neutral. Players can attempt to boost their oxygen by selecting from the dark blue pool, but dice can be fickle, and so they may have to change their strategy after seeing what they roll. Games don’t take long to play either – an average of 20 to 30 minutes in our experience – making it ideal for families.

For a more detailed look at the game, check out Dave’s full review on GeekDad.

 

Ice Cool, Image: Brain Games
Ice Cool, Image: Brain Games

Ice Cool

The final entry in my list of ice-themed tabletop games, Ice Cool, is possibly one of the most unique games I have played in a long time, and it certainly has some of the most unique packaging I have ever come across. The game could best be described as a variant on the classic soccer game Subbuteo, but instead of flicking soccer players around a pitch, you’re flicking penguins around a school built from ice. Curious yet?

Up to four people can play and there are as many rounds as there are players (except in a two-player game which has slightly different rules). In each round, one player takes on the role of hall monitor while the others play as students attempting to ditch class and eat some tasty fish instead. The student players have to zip around the school, passing through three doors with a fish overhead. Passing through a door adds that fish to your pile and allows the student to take a fish card from the deck. These cards have victory points on them that will be added up later. Meanwhile, the hall monitor chases the students around and attempts to tag them by bumping into them. Tagging students allows the hall monitor to take their ID cards until the end of the round.

The blue penguin moves to tag the red penguin in Ice Cool, Image: Sophie Brown
The blue penguin moves to tag the red penguin in Ice Cool, Image: Sophie Brown

The round ends when either a student has collected the three fish tokens of their color, or the hall monitor has collected the ID cards of every other player. At this point, players draw an additional fish card for every student ID they have in their possession (up to four for the hall monitor if they won the round). The next player becomes the hall monitor until the end of the final round. At the end of the game, the victory points on the fish cards are counted and the winner is the player with the most points (or the most cards in case of a tie).

Red's character card and ID with some fish cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Red’s character card and ID with some fish cards, Image: Sophie Brown

Ice Cool is a very fun, fast game that is easy to understand. Everyone can play, although younger children (and some adults) may struggle with the dexterity needed to flick their penguins accurately. We also found that we couldn’t play more than a couple of games in a row because constantly flicking your fingers against the plastic penguins quickly became painful. Thimbles might be a worthwhile investment if you plan to play a lot, or a least a box of band-aids to wrap your finger with!

For a more detailed look at Ice Cool, check out Jonathan’s full review on GeekDad.

GeekMom received these items for review purposes.

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Nivi Engineer <![CDATA[Defending Alexa: Parenting and the Echo Dot]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299572 2018-01-22T01:51:46Z 2018-01-17T11:00:22Z I've got an Echo Dot. She's not exactly part of the family, nor is she as helpful as Rosie from 'The Jetsons.' Perhaps she could be, but I've not set her up to do all she is capable of doing. On purpose.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes
Image of tweet by Sarah Sanders re: Echo Dot
Image Credit: N Engineer

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently decried the Amazon Echo on Twitter, complaining that her child just ordered a toy by repeatedly yelling into the Echo.

I’ve got an Echo Dot. She’s not exactly part of the family, nor is she as helpful as Rosie from The Jetsons. Perhaps she could be, but I’ve not set her up to do all she is capable of doing. On purpose.

While Voice Purchasing would certainly be convenient, ordering from my phone is convenient enough. I don’t even have 1-Click Ordering turned on so that I’m less inclined toward impulse shopping. My kids add items to my shopping cart, or text me links to what they want/need to buy, and I order it.

Kids are supposed to test boundaries. It’s what they’re designed to do. As parents, we set boundaries, and kids push them. We reinforce or rethink the boundaries, and the battle begins anew. My kids question every rule I ever make and very rarely does “because I said so” work. I question my decisions constantly, but that doesn’t mean I always give in. It means I ask myself why I set a certain restriction. Boundaries differ per age, per kid, per situation, per weather. Parenting is complicated.

So, yes, I get that Amazon Echo makes things more convenient. Mostly, we use ours to set timers when we’re cooking, play music, ask for measurement conversions, and—when the kids are around—to tell jokes. It could certainly be set up to do more, but only once I’ve weighed the costs and benefits. Just like I used to make sure new toys didn’t have tiny pieces that could be swallowed by small children, you gotta check your tech. Something I do with anything I bring into the house.

But if you like Alexa because of the convenience it offers you to order things automatically using voice controls, don’t cry foul when someone in your household orders things automatically using voice controls.

screenshots of Alexa App Voice Purchasing settings
Image Credit: N Engineer

Instead, go to the settings on your Alexa app, go down to Voice Purchasing, and either turn it off, set up a confirmation code (though you’ll want to make sure prying ears are out of earshot whenever you use the code), or accept it. The final option is to simply throw out the figurative baby with the bathwater.

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Ken Denmead <![CDATA[Geek Daily Deals Jan. 16, 2018: Powerful Mini Travel Iron for $15; Slip-on Traction Cleats for Ice and Snow]]> https://geekmom.com/2018/01/geek-daily-deals-jan-16-2018-powerful-mini-travel-iron-for-15-slip-on-traction-cleats-for-ice-and-snow/ 2018-01-16T16:23:36Z 2018-01-16T16:23:23Z Reading Time: 2 minutes Geek Daily Deals on a mini travel iron that will keep your clothes tidy on the road; or get these slip-on cleats to make any shoe safer in icy conditions. Steamfast SF-717 Home-and-Away Mini Steam Iron: When you’re on the road, you need to be able to keep your clothes looking […]

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Geek Daily Deals 011618 travel iron ice cleatsGeek Daily Deals on a mini travel iron that will keep your clothes tidy on the road; or get these slip-on cleats to make any shoe safer in icy conditions.

Steamfast SF-717 Home-and-Away Mini Steam Iron:

When you’re on the road, you need to be able to keep your clothes looking crisp and clean. You can’t always trust the irons in hotel rooms, or maybe you’re not staying in a hotel. This very well-reviewed (4.5 stars on over 1,400 reviews) takes up very little space in your luggage, but puts out plenty of steam and heat to press your garments back to their best state.

  • 420-watt mini steam iron removes wrinkles from almost any fabric
  • 1.4-ounce water tank; heats up in 15 seconds; variable temperature settings
  • Non-stick soleplate; 1-touch steam control; dual voltage for travel convenience
  • Travel bag and plastic measuring cup included
  • Measures approximately 5.2 x 3 x 3.1 inches; 1-year limited warranty

Get one today for just $14!

 

Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats for Walking on Snow and Ice:

It’s been a cold couple of weeks in many parts of the country, and there’s a lot of slipping and sliding going on. It might be a good idea to have a pair (or three) of these slip-on traction cleats lying around, in the car, at the front door or in the mudroom, so you can turn whichever pair of shoes you have on into hearty ice-shoes! Sizes available for kids and adults!

  • Plastic
  • Imported
  • Lightweight and affordable slip-on traction cleats to reduce the risk of falls when walking on snow or ice to work, school, or even to the mailbox
  • Made of abrasion-resistant 1.2 mm steel coils with zinc coating to prevent rust; secured to shoes with durable Polyelastomer outer band
  • Provides 360 degrees of traction on cold surfaces for all-direction stability
  • Highly elastic outer band with heel tab slips easily slips on and off of shoes; perfect for pedestrians, professionals and the elderly
  • Tested safe from breakage in temps as low as -41 degrees F; available in XS (Extra-small) S, M, and L sizes to fit most shoes

Get a set today for just $13!

 

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- Read the Full Post on GeekDad

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Nivi Engineer <![CDATA[7 Alternatives to the Scrapbook for the Disorganized Mom]]> https://geekmom.com/?p=299502 2018-01-16T00:22:54Z 2018-01-16T15:00:34Z Before I had kids, I got into the scrapbooking craze. Then I had kids. I don't scrapbook anymore. But I do still collect memories.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes
other projects that aren't scrapbooks
Image Credit: N Engineer

Before I had kids, I got into the scrapbook craze. Then I had kids. I don’t scrapbook anymore. But I do still collect memories.

I just watched an episode of Madam Secretary where three siblings look through old memorabilia, and the two elder kids go through their albums, while the youngest discovers that his parents never made one for him. This upsets him, and the parents have to make amends.

I’ve got supplies. I even started a scrapbook for my eldest and got as far as him being less than two weeks old in his album. He’s much older now. I’ve since had two more kids, and they don’t have albums at all.

Because the thing they don’t mention when you’re learning to scrapbook is that no matter how many tools you buy, or how many pre-cut borders you have, the sleeplessness and, well, sheer aaargh of new parenthood translates to a complete inability to think linearly. Or in any organized way whatsoever. When remembering to brush my teeth is a challenge, how am I supposed to figure out what color or cutesy pattern should be the background of any particular page? Worse yet, as a new parent, every little detail was utterly important, yet I was completely incapable of remembering it all. Which meant my baby’s album would always be incomplete.

I kept setting goals for this baby album—first I planned to get one done by the first birthday. Nope. Before I had a second kid. Nope. Pre-third kid? Nope. Even now, as we start to discuss college visits, there’s not one completed baby album in the house.

However, my kids’ lives have not gone completely undocumented, and I’m done feeling guilty.

1. Keep Birthday Invitations

Every year, we have a party for their birthdays. For many of those parties, I designed their invitations in Photoshop. I could probably gather these into an album. In fact, I should probably find copies of all of them. Here are a few examples:

2. Digital Albums

Of course, at these parties, we took pictures that we then uploaded. We can certainly look back on those albums online, and do something with them if we so desire. But they are documented.

3. Father’s Day Collage

Once a year, I take a bit of time to look through pictures from the past year and assemble them into a large photo collage in Photoshop. Using a 10×14 canvas, I obsess over which pictures to include (an equal number of each child, of course), the layout, and adjusting the margins perfectly so everything looks just right. I just put the new one on top of the old one in the frame, so they’re stored together. That counts, right? Here’s a sample:

instead of scrapbook, a fathers day collage
Image Credit: N Engineer

4. Holiday Cards

Yes, photo cards count. Whether we manage a family pic or we hobble together individual pics, we do document our past year. And while I’d love to say that I’ve stored them all in one album or some other organized manner, yeah, that ain’t the truth. They’re somewhere, no doubt about it. Perhaps one of our more organized friends has taken it upon herself to assemble a lovely gift for us one day, one which we would surely greatly appreciate.

5. Holiday Letter

I create the Engineer Gazette to accompany our holiday cards, using a newspaper-like layout. I include highlights of the past year and include quotes by the kids (which I email to myself throughout the year with the kid’s name and subject “quote” so I can easily search for it at year’s end). While not to the depth of a scrapbook, this too could be compiled into an album someday, assuming that is still the gold standard of documentation.

6. Ornaments

There was a paint-your-own-pottery studio near us when the kids were little, and for several years we’d take the kids there in December and have them each paint an ornament. After they closed, we started going to a different place. Now the kids balk at the idea, so one year I ordered an ornament with a picture of them from when we all went to a Cleveland Indians game. Then, when we put up the tree, I call on them to put up their ornaments as we briskly journey down memory lane.

7. Fun Jar

There’s a popular post on social media suggesting you keep a jar, and throughout the year put scraps of paper in with fond memories of shared events. And then, on December 31, the family sits together and goes through the jar, fondly reminiscing about the past year. We do something like that: we have a jar in the kitchen, and we use it to gather tickets to concerts, plays, shows, and sporting events. I’ll usually jot down who went on the back of the ticket to jog our memories. Near the jar, we stack up programs from these events. And at the end of the year, I get out a large manila envelope and shove everything inside. Because we’re usually hosting for New Year’s and don’t have time to sit around and look through this stuff. But I’ve got it all, so one day, yes on that mystical “one day” when there is time enough to do everything, I can do something with all these gathered memories.

Outside the Scrapbook

This is certainly a bit of a hodgepodge of memory keepers. I also order their school pictures every year, and have a nice stack of them somewhere in the house, again waiting to be assembled into a single photo album. Someday. But until that mythical day arrives (and perhaps it should happen this summer, and be a task completed by the kids themselves), I will stop feeling guilty about not fulfilling my responsibility as a parent/official documentarian, and realize that while I have never managed to collect their photos in albums, I have indeed been documenting their childhood just fine.

So no, I’ve not managed to scrapbook our lives. Somehow that particular construct is just too intimidating to me. Recently at my parent’s house, I found two albums I had created when I was younger, and perhaps my issue is that this scrapbook craze suggests that I’m responsible for documenting my children’s lives. If instead, I let them write the narrative, sit down one day (or numerous days) to assemble their own childhood scrapbooks, these albums would actually get done. Perhaps this summer I’ll post about how I successfully did that. But until that mystical day, I’m going to shed my guilt and reassure myself that my kids’ lives are being sufficiently commemorated.

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