Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Heart: Sock Monkey Madness

Apparently, it was sock monkey weekend for Kris and me.  We gave our friends' little girls pink baby sock monkeys for Easter and then ended up receiving a baby sock monkey of our own, as well as a sock monkey jack-in-the-box and yo-yo!

Sock monkeylicious Easter gifts
How cute is this guy?

The tiniest sock monkey

Adorable sock monkey earrings

My favorite pajama brand, Nick & Nora, has awesome sock monkey PJs (I have the Christmas ones!), including this new style.

This picture of Kris and Darby:

It counts because you can see a sock monkey head behind the chair.

This is still my favorite commercial (Bonus: Robot doing the robot!):

Monday, April 25, 2011

Geek of the Week: Adam Savage

Adam Savage is most widely-known as the energetic, fun-loving co-host of "Mythbusters", but he has a pretty amazing resume.  His father was a featured animator on "Sesame Street" and Savage provided voices for several of his father's characters.  He also appeared in a Charmin commercial as Mr. Whipple's assistant and as a drowning swimmer in the music video for Billy Joel's "You're Only Human (Second Wind)".  Savage eventually decided that he'd rather be behind the scenes, and has worked as a special effects artist, robotics engineer, and model builder for several films, TV shows, and commercials, including Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, The Matrix Reloaded, and Galaxy Quest.  He works, along with jack-of-all-trades Jamie Hyneman, on "Mythbusters" and is a featured performer on w00stock.

View Savage's full resume on his website, follow him on Twitter (@donttrythis), and, of course, watch him on "Mythbusters" (Discovery Channel, Wednesdays at 9 PM Eastern)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I hope the Easter Domo was as good to you as he was to us!

Kris (Monkey) - New swim trunks & caramel Cadbury eggs; Me (Robot) - The Last Unicorn & fuchsia Peeps

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A to Z Movies

Jinx (over at Totally Jinxed) has an amazing alphabetical list of her current favorite films, and she inspired me to create my own list:

Amelie (2001)
I love this movie.  Audrey Tatou is gorgeous and the entire movie just puts me in a good mood.  Even if you are not a fan of foreign films, you should watch this flick.

Honorable Mention:  American Psycho (2000) - An excellent adaptation (directed by a woman, no less!) of one of the most disturbing books I have ever read.  (Bonus: Christian Bale moonwalks!)

Beetlejuice (1988)
The flick that introduced me to Tim Burton and Winona Ryder.

Honorable Mentions:  The Bad Seed (1956) - Based on the William March novel of the same name.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) - The role Keanu Reeves was born to play.

The Changeling (1980)
George C. Scott stars in this early '80s ghost story that made red rubber balls terrifying.

Honorable Mention:  The Children (2008) - An awesome British indie horror movie about psychokiller kids.

The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Guillermo Del Toro's beautiful and haunting ghost story, set during the Spanish civil war.

Honorable Mention:  Death Proof (2007) - My favorite Tarantino film - nothing better than Kurt Russell and kick-ass chicks!

The Exorcist (1973)
I have to go with Jinx on this one.  William Friedkin's The Exorcist is in my Top Ten best films of all time list for several reasons, including (but not limited to) the faithful adaptation of the novel, the amazing cast, Dick Smith's incredible makeup and special effects, and Mercedes McCambridge's bone-chilling voice work.  Not to mention that this flick has serious staying power.

Honorable Mention:  Edward Scissorhands (1990) - A beautiful, dark love story with a cameo from Vincent Price.

Fido (2006)
A kitschy zombie satire starring Billy Connolly and Carrie-Anne Moss.  In an alternative universe 1950s, the zombie war results in collared zombies working as servants in suburbia.

Honorable Mention: Fallen (1998) - A subtle demonic possession film starring Denzel Washington. (Bonus:  A small role by one of my favorite character actors, Elias Koteas.)

Ginger Snaps (2000)
Two sisters who are obsessed with death must deal with boys, growing up, and high school - all while protecting the secret that one of them is a werewolf.

Honorable MentionGhost World (2001) - Clever adaptation of Daniel Clowes's graphic novel of the same name.  Thora Birch is a pitch-perfect Enid Coleslaw.

A Hard Day's Night (1964)
It's The Beatles . . . need I say more?

Honorable Mention:  House of 1,000 Corpses (2003) - I was shocked that I liked this film, but I totally did.  It's a fun horror flick, which tends to be pretty rare.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
One of the few times that the remake is actually better than the original.  It's one of my favorite sci-fi flicks of all time.

Honorable Mention:  It's All About Love (2003) - Made by a Danish director with an A-List Hollywood cast (Sean Penn, Claire Danes, and a pre-fake break down Joaquin Phoenix), this film isn't really good, but it is incredibly weird, so it's worth the watch.

Jawbreaker (1999)
This film was pretty heavily panned when it first came out, but I liked it so much better than the regular teen fare that Hollywood was pumping out at the time (Clueless, et al.)

Honorable Mention:  Jennifer's Body (2009) - This Diablo Cody penned movie is chock full of references to both '80s teen flicks and classic horror films.  Much better than I expected it to be, considering it stars Megan Fox.

Kick-Ass (2010)
In addition to being funny, this movie kicks a lot of ass.  Based on the awesome comic series of the same name.

Honorable Mention:  Kill Bill (2003) - Tarantino's super-stylized take on kung fu flicks.

Let the Right One In (2008)
The gorgeous Swedish film based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Honorable Mention:  The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976) - An awesome, subtle thriller starring a young Jodie Foster.

Mirrormask (2005)
Inspired by Alice in Wonderland and written by Neil Gaiman equals this girl's dream come true.

Honorable Mention:  Marie Antoinette (2006) - Based on the life of the doomed Austrian-born French queen, Sofia Coppola's film is a beautiful feast for the eyes with a modern twist.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The first (and best) of many Freddy Krueger films.  The school hallway scene alone makes this movie worth watching.  (Bonus:  Johnny Depp gets sucked into a bed.)

Honorable Mentions:  Night of the Living Dead (1968) - George Romero's game-changing zombie flick.
Near Dark (1987) - Behold the awesomeness that is Lance Henriksen.

The Omen (1976)
Again, gotta go with Jinx on this one.  I love The Omen and I watch it every Halloween.  You can't go wrong with evil kids, scary music, and Billie Whitelaw.

Honorable Mention:  The Others (2001) - A stylish ghost story with a solid twist ending.

Psycho (1960)
This was arguably Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece and almost singlehandedly created the slasher genre.

Honorable Mention:  Phantasm (1979) - Who wasn't scared of the Tall Man as a kid?

Quiz Show (1994)
The Oscar-nominated film about the scandal surrounding 1950s quiz shows like "Twenty One".  Ralph Fiennes is excellent in this film.

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
This film is excellent.  It also makes me want to curl into the fetal position while simultaneously rocking back and forth every time I watch it.

Honorable Mention:  Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Michael Madsen singing "Stuck in the Middle With You" into an ear.  That is all.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
My favorite zombie movie of all time!

Honorable Mentions:  Shallow Grave (1994) - Danny Boyle's first film about an unlikeable trio of roommates who happen upon a suitcase full of money . . . and a dead body they must get rid of.
Seven (1995) - David Fincher's dark, twisting view of humanity.  (Bonus:  Brad Pitt screaming, "What's in the box?"  We do this every time we get a package and it's still funny.)

The Thing (1982)
One of my favorite flicks.

Honorable Mention:  The Tenant (1976) - Roman Polanski stars in and directs this bizzare testament to the hell of apartment living.

The Uninvited (1944)
A classic black and white ghost story starring Ray Milland (from Dial M for Murder), notable for being one of the first Hollywood films to depict a haunting as a serious supernatural event.

The Vanishing (1988)
The Dutch thriller with a shocking ending.

Honorable Mentions:  Village of the Damned (1960) - Wolf Rilla's adaptation of The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham.  A very creepy black and white classic.
V for Vendetta (2006) - A gorgeous film based on the Alan Moore graphic novel of the same name.

The Wicker Man (1973)
An amazing British film with the incomparable Christopher Lee and a brilliant performance from Edward Woodward.  (I was really tempted to put the "Not the Bees" scene from the 2006 Wicker Man on here, but I decided against it.  You're welcome.)

Honorable Mention:  When a Stranger Calls (1979) - Have you checked the children?

X-Men (2000)
Bryan Singer brings the wildly popular superheroes to life. (I'm super excited about the upcoming X-Men: First Class, by the way.)

Yes Man (2008)
 A surprisingly funny Jim Carrey flick about one man's transformation into a positive person.  (Bonus:  They go to Lincoln, NE!)

Zombieland (2009)
A hilarious and goreriffic zombie flick.

Honorable Mention:  Zodiac (2007) - David Fincher's adaptation of Robert Graysmith's book about the real-life serial killer who terrorized San Fransisco during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Saga Continues: Bellafante Responds

Ginia Bellafante has responded to the outcry against her on The New York Times blog ArtBeat.  Instead of addressing the fact that she repeatedly slammed female fantasy fans, she decided to bemoan how roughly she was treated and ended the post with the very condescending and sarcastic:

"Given that so many people wrote in advance of seeing “Game of Thrones,” we would love to know what all of the Martin series lovers think of the adaptation so far."
I'm sure Miss Bellafante thought she was making a solid point about being attacked for her feelings on "Game of Thrones" when her attackers themselves hadn't even seen the finished product.  The problem is that few people were upset that she didn't like the show.  The women (and several of the men) who took issue with her review were incensed by her blatant claims that women are not fantasy fans and would not be interested in the show unless it included romance or sex.  They were upset that she didn't take the time to find out who was included in the fanbase of the genre, the series in question, or the upcoming show.  As I said before, if she would have spent fifteen minutes on the internet, there would have been no need to comment on the lack of female fans.

Ultimately, though, the biggest issue with Bellafante's review is that it is not a review at all.  She doesn't discuss the show in any detail, preferring instead to dismiss the genre as a whole.  The most she said about "Game of Thrones" specifically had to do with how "confusing" it was and how there were too many characters.  I enjoy writing reviews, but other than the ones I do here, I've only written a few for my school newspaper.  Even I know, however, that it is important to include plot points, characters, and to discuss the actual show in a well-written review.  A review is not a diatribe about how you don't "get" fantasy and that a fantasy show won't translate well to mainstream viewers. 

As others have said, if Miss Bellafante is not a fantasy fan (or, at the very least, open minded), perhaps she was not the right person to review "Game of Thrones".  She is a woman and a journalist, however, and she has a responsibility to represent both in an exemplary fashion, particularly when she is writing for a prestigious and widely read newspaper.  In this, she failed miserably.  In regards to her unapology, I say, "It's not good enough."

I Heart: The Girls Can Be Geeks Too Edition

In the wake of New York Times reviewer Ginia Bellafante's incendiary and sexist review of HBO's "Game of Thrones", I give you girl geekery at its finest . . .

HuffPo book reviewer Ilana Teitelbaum's thoughtful rebuttal.  Teitelbaum is a fan of George R. R. Martin's fantasy series and does an excellent job of pointing out the numerous flaws in Bellafante's flippant and insulting "review".

My favorite geek mom and baby girl geek get featured in ThinkGeek's Customer
Action Shots!

Natania Barron's "5 Tips for Raising Your Girl Geek" - wise words for geek and non-geek parents raising a female geekling.

Sexy female superhero PJs from Spencers - is anyone else impressed that they got a few lesser known superheroines in the mix? (I particularly love the Emma Frost ones!)

Team Unicorn's music video celebrating being girl geeks, while parodying Katie Perry's "Californa Gurls".  The vid features Clare Grant, Michele Boyd, Rileah Vanderbilt, and Milynn Sarley, as well as cameos by Seth Green and "Battlestar Galactica's" Katee Sackhoff.  While Team Unicorn gets a lot of flak for being "too mainstream pretty" (whatever that means) as well as being overly sexy in the video, I think it's awesome.

Team Unicorn discusses their video with www.girlgamer.com Editor-in-Chief Crix Lee:

This ElfQuest fan trailer, which premiered at WonderCon at the beginning of the month.  It was created, produced, and directed by two female ElfQuest fans, Stephanie Thorpe and Paula Rhodes, who conceived the idea on Twitter and presented it to IndieGoGo.

And, finally, a short list of awesome geek girl blogs and Twitter feeds*:

Geek Girl Diva (@geekgirldiva)

Geek With Curves (@amy_geek)

The Nerdy Bird (extra points for the tagline: "Has Boobs, Reads Comics") (@TheNerdyBird)

GeekMom (the collective companion blog to GeekDad)


@bonniegrrl (Bonnie Burton)

@Veronica (Veronica Belmont)

@lizlet (Liz Shannon Miller)


*If you know of others, please use the comment box to leave your suggestions.  I am ALWAYS looking for new reading material.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Geek of the Week: Jonathan Coulton

Jonathan Coulton (found here)
Jonathan Coulton is a former computer programmer and current musical geek genius.  He's a Yale graduate and has contributed theme songs to several TV shows, including Code Monkeys and Mystery Diagnosis.  Coulton is most famous for penning the extremely popular song, "Still Alive", played over the end credits of Portal.  Coulton is also the music director for "The Little Gray Books", an intellectual variety series created by "Daily Show" regular John Hodgman.  In September of 2005, he started a year-long project called "Thing A Week", where he wrote and recorded 52 musical pieces in an effort to boost his creativity.  Coulton licenses his songs under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license, which allows people to use his songs for noncommercial projects.  As a result, his songs have been used in countless homemade music videos posted to YouTube.

You can get more information about Jonathan Coulton on his blog/website and follow him on Twitter (@jonathancoulton)

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Saturday Review: Ginia Bellafante's Review of Game of Thrones

Editor's Note:  It feels kind of weird to do a review of a review, but it needs to be addressed.

HBO's newest series is "Game of Thrones", a huge film-quality production based on the epic sci-fi/fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, written by George R. R. Martin.  It's extremely popular in the sci-fi/fantasy community and has spawned trading card, role-playing, and board games.  Obviously, geeks are excited about the series, and that includes girl geeks, of course.

But, New York Times reviewer Ginia Bellafante doesn't seem to be convinced that girl geeks even exist.  Repeatedly throughout her review of the "Game of Thrones" pilot, she returns to the idea that female viewers will be scarce.  She makes a point of saying that the show's sexy undercurrent is a deliberate move to cull a female fanbase.
"'Game of Thrones' is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population's other half."
 "The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise."
Basically, Miss Bellafante's position is that the only way women would watch something like "Game of Thrones" is if it included romance/sex scenes and that those scenes are there exclusively "for the ladies".  Because men aren't interested in sex at all, right?

All of the women I am friends with are girl geeks and a number of them play World of Warcraft (or other MMORPGs), read sci-fi/fantasy novels, and yes, watch sci-fi/fantasy themed movies and television shows.

It's always disheartening when journalists don't do their research, especially when it would take fifteen minutes of perusing the internet to find out that there is a HUGE girl geek community, with a large portion of that community devoted to sci-fi and fantasy.  Bellafante goes on to say:
"While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin's, I can honestly say that I never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to The Hobbit first."
To which I say to Miss Bellafante, clearly you are in the wrong book clubs*.

*Please read this article, by MSNBC's Susan C. Young and this response to Bellafante's review by awesome geek girl blogger Amy Ratcliffe over at Geek With Curves.  Now these are women I would start a book club with!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Top Five . . . Shows I Can't Believe I Watched

Watching "I Love the 80s" for the millionth time will do something to a person.  Mainly, it makes you wonder what you were thinking when you watched long forgotten shows.  Here are the Top Five shows I can't believe I watched.

5.  "Jem"

This was one of my favorite cartoons as a little girl and it is an absolute time capsule for the 80s.  The show was about an orphaned heiress (Jerrica Benton) who transformed into a rock band frontwoman (Jem) and fought crime on the side.  Her nemesis was Pizzazz, the leader of a rival punk band that constantly tried to beat The Holograms in the Battle of the Bands.  Ignoring the ridiculous premise (it is a cartoon, after all), the biggest problem with the show was that Jerrica's boyfriend, Rio, was also in love with/sort of dating Jem without knowing she was Jerrica's alter-ego.  Essentially, he was cheating on her (with herself) and she STILL dated him. 

4.  "Double Trouble"

Even though this short-lived show aired when I was one years old, I managed to catch reruns when I was a bit older and I remember loving it.  Identical twins Jean and Liz Sagal (sisters of Katey Sagal) starred as the Foster twins.  Allison, the more serious twin, would have to help wild-child Kate clean up her many messes.  Sound familiar?  It should, it's basically the premise of the Francine Pascal penned Sweet Valley Twin series, which is probably why I liked it so much.  (I was also a big fan of The Parent Trap and old "Patty Duke Show" episodes, so go figure.)

3.  "Small Wonder"

It's everyone's favorite show about daughter-bot V.I.C.I.!  The Lawson family passes the pint-sized robot off as their10 year old daughter, Vicki, but their nosy neighbors remain unconvinced.  The goal was to help Vicki become more life-like by living with a real family - which they attempted to do by dressing her like an overgrown doll and using her robotic functions to make household chores easier.  Um . . . yeah.  The 80s were weird.

2. "Kids Incorporated"

Before "Glee" there was "Kids Incorporated".  This Disney produced show was about a group of kids in a band who were also best friends (despite their differing ages and backgrounds).  Musical numbers were an integral part of the show and the episodes themselves were like bad school plays.  Several celebrities got their start on "Kids Incorporated", including Mario Lopez, Stacy Ferguson (Fergie to all you Black Eyed Peas fans), and Jennifer Love Hewitt (known then as Love Hewitt).  I remember waiting for the Disney Channel free preview weekends especially for this show.  (There are many themes for this long-running show, but I picked the one from the cast I remembered best.)

1.  "Adventures in Wonderland"

This show was particularly bad, but I still watched it because it was (loosely) based on Alice in Wonderland.  Alice, experiencing problems in the real world, would go through her mirror to escape into Wonderland.  Once there, she would end up helping her friends deal with their problems, which would give her an idea of how to handle her own.  Like most Disney Channel shows, the acting was questionable and the plots were cliche, despite efforts to make the story more modern (a roller blading White Rabbit and the Tweedle twins outfitted in backwards caps and Hammer pants, just to name two.)

Anyone willing to admit their own childhood guilty pleasure television picks?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Heart: The Flesh Eating Edition

Zombie Fluxx - The zombie version of a very fun card game that has an almost infinite number of combinations.

A new take on Plants vs. Zombies - Phil Jones's Zombie Plant

The cast and crew of "The Walking Dead" talk about what to expect for season two.  (On a side note, I am completely impressed with AMC's original programming.  I started watching "The Killing" recently and it looks very promising.)

I've mentioned that I'm not much of a gamer, but I am completely captivated by the trailer for the upcoming game Dead Island.  It seems very reminiscent of Silent Hill I and II, with the added bonus of zombies.

I'm bummed that I missed out on this T-shirt from woot, but you can still see the adorable design.  Do you think it's a PB&B sandwich? (That's peanut butter and brains.)

I missed one of the most important ThinkGeek April Fool's joke products - the chocolate zombie Easter bunny.  You can show your interest in any of the April Fool's products by clicking "Buy Now", selecting the products you want to see added to the permanent catalog, and submitting your email.  If they choose to make what you've selected, you'll get an email letting you know it's in stock.  (Vote for the zombie Easter bunny and I will love you forever!)

UPDATE:   Somebody out there must love me, because I got the new ThinkGeek newsletter in my inbox today and the chocolate zombie Easter bunny is a reality!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Geek of the Week: Tom Savini

Tom Savini (found here)
Chances are, if you've watched a horror film in the last 30 years, you've seen Tom Savini's work.  Called "The Godfather of Gore" and "The Sultan of Splatter" by admiring fans, Savini has done special effects on classic, influential horror films, including Friday the 13th, The Prowler, From Dusk Till Dawn, and several of George Romero's Dead films.

As a kid, Savini was fascinated by Lon Chaney and aspired to be a makeup effects artist/actor.  He spent his pocket money on makeup and practiced on his friends, much to the horror of their parents.  As an adult, he fought in Vietnam, serving as a combat photographer.  He would later use the carnage he saw during the war to create more realistic special effects on film.

He got his start working with Romero on the 1977 film Martin.  Soon other filmmakers (Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper, etc.) came calling and Savini became the go-to guy for gore. 

While he still does behind-the-scenes work and often appears in small roles onscreen, Savini spends most of his time running the Special Make-Up Effects Program at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen, PA.

I would kill to go here . . .

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I think we all know what this means.

But on the brighter side . . .

. . . I have the best (and funniest!) husband ever.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sick Day Essentials

I love this guy, but like most small children, he breeds germs.  With a hefty amount of Purell and hand washing, I seem to avoid being sick most of the time.  Kris is not so lucky.  Someone sneezes in his direction and he catches a cold.  (This is mostly due to allergy/sinus problems weighing down his immune system.)  With the up and down weather changes, he didn't stand a chance against the booger machine.

So, now Kris is sick.  And that means I get to play caretaker.  Since we've been together for a loooong time, I know the necessary items to get us both through a Kris cold unscathed.

Sick Kris (with Darby in the foreground and the monkey lying on the floor)

Kris's Sick Day Essentials

1.  Star Wars comforter

It's the perfect thickness for hanging out on the couch - not too hot, but thick enough to keep him warm.

2.  Red sock monkey

Kris's dad and stepmom gave us matching sock monkeys for Christmas after I fell in love with an adorable anniversary card they gave us last year.  Kris occasionally curls up with his monkey when he's not feeling well or especially tired.

3.  Ginger ale and crackers

This comes straight from his childhood.  When he was sick as a kid, he barely ate anything else.

4.  Creamy Chicken Noodle soup

Think "Cream of Chicken" mixed with "Chicken Noodle".  Yeah, I don't understand it either.

5.  The guy's version of "trashy TV"

Lots of "Destination Truth" and "Ghost Adventures", with a little bit of Science Channel and National Geographic thrown in for balance.

Even though I don't really get sick, per se, I do get a lot of killer migranes.  For comparison, here are my . . . 

Sick Day Essentials

1.  Funny and/or nostalgic movies

As a kid, I had specific movies that I watched when I was sick.  (e.g. Singin' in the Rain and The Ten Commandments)  Now, I'm not so rigid, but the flicks do have to give me warm fuzzies.  (Some of my favorites are Labyrinth, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and The Lost Boys.)

2.  Big, comfy pajamas

I like these for sleeping as well, but when I don't feel well, they're absolutely necessary.  My favs right now are my newly purchased Pac-Man pjs.  They're guy's pajama pants, which means they're infinitely more comfortable than women's pjs.  (Why is that?)

3.  Socks

Normally, I hate wearing socks.  When I'm not wearing shoes, I usually go barefoot rather than keeping my socks on.  I only wear socks around the house when I don't feel well.  Something about having them on then makes me feel warm and cozy.

4.  Cream soda and Chicken NoodleOs

I'm a Dr. Pepper fiend, but it's not the greatest thing for a sick person to imbibe.  I compromise by drinking cream soda (still carbonated, but not caffeinated).  I don't compromise on the Chicken NoodleOs, though.  They're a must and no other chicken soup will do.

5.  A long, hot shower

I'm of the firm belief that a lengthy, near-boiling hot shower can fix (almost) anything.

What little things help you get well faster?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Top Five . . . Favorite Shows From My Childhood

These were the shows I absolutely loved and had a part in defining my personality today.  Behold:

5.  ReBoot

One of the first completely CGI television series, "ReBoot" centered on the inner workings of the computer.  A city, known as Mainframe, was the home of the people, robots, and creatures that lived inside the computer.  The main story of each episode occurred when the "user" loaded a game and the people of Mainframe tried to prevent him or her from winning.  If the user won, the computer-generated participants were turned into "nulls".  The series' protagonist Bob and his friends, Dot and Enzo, also had to fight against the evil siblings Megabyte and Hexadecimal within the Mainframe universe. 

4.  Bill Nye: the Science Guy

Kids fascinated with science in the 90s were divided in two camps:  "Beakman's World" or "Bill Nye: the Science Guy".  I was a "Bill Nye" girl (sadly, Kris is a "Beakman" devotee), and I still think of the show whenever someone says, "Did you know that . . ."  ("Now you know!")

3.  Eeire, Indiana

This was a show ahead of its time.  "Eeire, Indiana" centered on a newly transplanted teen, Marshall Teller, and his quest to uncover and expose the weirdness in his seemingly normal town.  Created before "The X-Files", Marshall was the original truth-seeker.

2.  Are you Afraid of the Dark?

All the cool kids watched SNICK on Saturday nights in the '90s, and the best part of SNICK was "Are you Afraid of the Dark?".  It was the teenage version of "Tales From the Crypt" and some of the episodes were genuinely scary.  This show, combined with Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, cemented my love of ghosts and the supernatural.

1.  Unsolved Mysteries

"Unsolved Mysteries" was my all-time favorite show when I was younger.  Back in the day, we didn't have "Forensic Files" or any other true crime shows.  It was "Unsolved Mysteries" and "America's Most Wanted" or nothing.  The great thing about "Unsolved Mysteries" (besides the awesome host, Robert Stack) was that it covered all sorts of stuff in addition to crime cases - aliens, ghosts, and Kris's favorite - spontaneous combustion.  Even though the theme song gave me nightmares, I never missed an episode.

What shows changed your life?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Heart: The It's Good to Be a Geek Edition

The Oatmeal - If you like Hyperbole and a Half, you'll love The Oatmeal.  Matthew Inman, a former web designer and programmer, is the artist and writer behind this humor blog.  It's a combination of comics, quizzes, and hilarious stories from Inman's life and work experiences.  He frequently updates the site, so there's a consistent flow of newness to brighten up your day. My personal favorite at the moment are the "Bobcat" comics, a series of panels about two cats who work in an office. 

ThinkGeek's annual "April Fools" products - In past years, the geek mega-webstore has brought the Tauntaun sleeping bag and Unicorn Meat to the geeky masses after first appearing as April Fools jokes.  This year we could see Bonsai Kitty Plushes, Lightsaber Popsicles, Angry Birds Pork Rinds, or the formidable PLAYMOBIL Apple Store playset added to ThinkGeek's permanent catalog.

The gameplay demos for Alice: Madness Returns - They're way more awesome than I was expecting.  Unlike some games (*cough* Duke Nukem *cough*), the game's release date has actually been pushed up to June 14th.  You can pre-order the game through the official website for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, and PC download.

        Spending the afternoon watching "The Mighty Boosh" - Whenever I'm bored and need a little bit of surreality, I watch this British comedy.  I first saw it on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, but after a little investigating, I discovered that large parts of the show were cut out for commercials.  I remedied that disappointment quickly by buying the DVDs and now I can watch Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) and Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) whenever I please.

          The March issue of Fangoria - I love reading Fango, but at $8.99 a piece, it can get pretty pricey.  Even so, I had to pick up this month's issue when I saw the cover.  A six page interview with the amazing Richard Matheson?  Yes, please.

            Fangoria #301 (found here)

            This adorable Hello Kitty pouch - I have the "nerd glasses" version, but how cute are those old-school 3-D glasses?

            And finally, in "No freakin' way" news . . . there may be a third Bill and Ted in the works.  Is it my birthday?  Did Christmas come early?  Can you tell how excited I am about this?

            What's making you squeal with glee this week?

            Sunday, April 3, 2011

            Geek of the Week: Bonnie Burton

            Bonnie Burton
            Bonnie Burton is a blogger, author, and girl geek extraordinare.  Several of her books have a Star Wars theme, including How to Draw Star Wars and The Star Wars Craft Book.  Burton wrote for Geek Monthly magazine and is the senior editor at Lucas.com.  She loves retro stuff and sports a Bettie Page haircut, cat-eye glasses, and fiery red lips.  (In other words, a girl after my own heart.)  She's also been paid homage to by the great Len Peralta, who featured her on one of his Geek a Week trading cards.

            Visit Burton's website and follow her on Twitter (@bonniegrrl.com)

            Saturday, April 2, 2011

            The Saturday Review: Toshiba Netbook

            Toshiba Mini-Notebook (netbook)
            10.1" screen
            Intel Atom processor N455
            2 GB memory (upgraded from 1 GB)
            250 GB hard drive
            Intel Integrated Graphics
            Equipped with: full-size keys, touchpad, integrated webcam and mic
            OS: Ubuntu Netbook Edition

            As much as I loved Lappy, he was kind of a pain in the butt.  That particular model had webcam issues, so my webcam worked for about 2 1/2 uses and died.  I mounted an external webcam on the top when I needed to use one, but it was very frustrating and often fell off.  The battery had an extremely short life, even in the beginning, and only got steadily worse as time went on.  Then, Sullivan chewed through the power cord and I had to buy a generic compatible one as they no longer sold the actual cord.  This eventually led to Lappy's internal combustion and I was forced to buy my new netbook.

            Sullivan looks on in horror as Lappy is gutted for parts.
            When Kris suggested I get a netbook, I was against it at first.  I wanted to be able to have computer functionality and my understanding of a netbook was that it only provided the most basic functions and was similar to a smart phone or tablet.  As I read, I found out that this was not the case.  Netbooks have most of the capabilities of a full-size laptop, but simplified and streamlined.

            I read up on netbooks and decided on the Toshiba mini-notebook based on positive CNET reviews.  The Toshiba is lightweight and sleek.  Previous models were described as having a bulky and protruding battery, but Toshiba seems to have fixed that issue.  I was able to comfortably use the computer while lying in bed and watching TV, something I was unable to do with my previous laptop.  Battery life is, on average, six hours and it is so nice not to have to be constantly plugged in.  Because of its size, the netbook only has one speaker (mono), but it does have a headphone jack, which allows the sound to be heard in stereo.  It also has a USB port and a SD card reader.

            The Nanobot
            Most netbooks come standard with Windows 7 Starter, which means very limited access to Windows 7 features (for instance, you can't change the desktop background).  This virtually forces you to upgrade, which can be costly.  Another option is to use the Ubuntu Netbook Edition.  Even though Kris is a die-hard Linux convert, I am not a Linux user by any means.  That being said, the netbook version of Ubuntu is surprisingly easy to use once you get used to it.  There are benefits to using Linux; you deal with less bloatware and unneeded programs and there is less chance of getting viruses.  Most Windows-compatible programs have Linux counterparts or, as in the case of Skype, a Linux beta version. 

            Ubuntu Netbook Edition desktop

            As far as looks go, the Toshiba netbook is probably the best-looking netbook on the market.  It looks like a very small laptop, and this model comes in some gorgeous colors (turquoise, lime green, bright blue, brown, and orange).  The screen, though small at 10.1", is excellent and arguably rivals any full-size laptop for clarity.

            Toshiba Mini-Notebook in blue

            The netbook is perfect for what I need and very user friendly.  I would recommend it for people who are looking for a high-quality laptop without a lot of extras or frills.  It's not a good fit for people who use their computer for entertainment (ex: games, watching movies, etc.), but for those who can afford it, it would make an excellent secondary laptop for students or frequent travelers.