Category: Media

Living the Harry Potter dream: Visiting Diagon Alley

One of my earliest entries into the world of fantasy novels was the Harry Potter books.  (The other was Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince series, which ties into this little story…) I remember trying to find something to read one day (mom had told me I was forbidden to read the Dragon Prince series, because there was a dragon on the cover, I’m not even kidding), with a huge limitation – “NO DRAGONS on the cover, they’re associated with the devil!  And none of that fantasy crap!”  I scoured the bookshelf in the room I shared with my sister, trying to find something remotely fantasy-related, as I’d been bitten by the fantasy bug hard and my seventeen-year-old self wanted to lose myself in a world of magic and mysterious creatures.

My eyes widened when I came across a new-looking copy of the first Harry Potter book.  I don’t remember when we got it, and I don’t think it’d even been opened at that point.  I looked at the front cover leaf, determined it was about wizards, and thought to myself, “hah – I can’t read a fantasy novel with dragons on the cover, but this one has a WIZARD.  And mom must have bought it, since it’s here on the bookshelf, so I’m gonna read it!”

Read More

Steven Universe: my new obsession

You may have seen some more Steven Universe images creeping into my blog as I’ve been posting (infrequently as its been, I know) – and there’s a reason for that, friends.

I am ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED WITH THIS SHOW.

omg omg omg

I haven’t been this enthralled with a show since I discovered Sailor Moon back in 1997, you guys. I love the characters, I love the overwhelmingly female-positive vibe of the show, I love the fact that it tackles issues like anxiety and relationships, I love the gripping and occasionally deep storyline, I love the music, I LOVE IT ALL.

I love it so much that I made it the focus of my research for a class I took last semester, Content Analysis for the Web.  (And once I polish up my papers, I’ll even post them here, for those curious.)  I love it so much that I’m considering getting a Rose Quartz themed tattoo.  I love it so much I named my new car Lapis.

She’s no longer rocking Janeway’s old plate, but there’s my Lappy!

Seriously.  I love this show.  So much.

huuuuuugs

I’ve got my desk covered in as much SU merchandise as I can find.  I’ve got a plush Steven on my bedside table.  I have Steven Universe boxers, for crying out loud, haha.  I feel like I used to back when I discovered Sailor Moon… but there are lots of others out there who like Steven Universe, too.  And episodes keep coming out.  And it’s all over awesome and wonderful.

So, yeah, in case you couldn’t tell, I like this show.  A lot. 😀

Why yes, I did crochet myself into a repetitive stress injury.

At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how I messed up my shoulder a few months ago: too much crocheting.  Who knew there was such a thing as too much crocheting?  Then again, I was cranking out a cardigan like a madwoman for a little bit, and even tried crocheting some socks… (which is a different story for another time, my adventures in sock creation) So, yeah, The Crafty Nerd was out of crafting commission for a while there while I underwent physical therapy and tried (and sometimes failed) to give my shoulder a rest.

"You don't get it, Fluttershy, I have projects to finish!  Blankets to make!  Hats to craft!  I can't not crochet!"
“You don’t get it, Fluttershy, I have projects to finish! Blankets to make! Hats to craft! I can’t not crochet!”

The good news: I can now do yarn-crafts again without being in stupid amounts of pain!  The bad news: I’ve been a slacker of a blogger in the meantime.  I’ll make up for it, though, I promise.  I’ve got some cool nerdy things to show off in regards to creating a personalized start page for your browser (yes, I am that nerdy), and I’m making socks!  With double pointed knitting needles. Which used to terrify me.  And I have a new favorite show to share my thoughts on: Steven Universe.

YAAAY STEVEN UNIVERSE
YAAAY STEVEN UNIVERSE

I swear, I love that show SO MUCH.  It may have knocked My Little Pony and Sailor Moon out of the top spots of my favorite animated shows ever.  I’ve rewatched the entire series at least three times.  It’s amazing.  But I’ll ramble about Steven Universe in a later post!

Crafting for a Cause: The David Bowie Button

As I’m sure many of you have heard last week, David Bowie passed away – his music had a profound impact on my life, and was the soundtrack to my early college years.  When Ross shared the news last week, I thought he was kidding, to be honest – but my Facebook feed said otherwise.  I spent the rest of the morning trying not to burst into tears while I got ready for work.  As I went through my day, I saw the reactions of my friends on social media, and wished there was something I could do to help them, and to help myself feel better.  We were all hurting.

And then I saw this tweet from my friend Josie:

I have graphic design skills.  And I wanted to do something creative as an outlet for my Bowie-related feels.  So I responded to Josie’s tweet, and together, we took her idea and turned it into a button.  She told me she had an idea for a button with the lightning bolt from Bowie’s makeup from the Aladdin Sane cover, behind the letters RIP – and that the spaces in the R and P were Bowie’s eyes.  I took that idea, and turned it into the following design:

bowie_eyes

Josie thought it was great, and so I shrunk it down into a button-sized graphic, which she printed and turned into buttons with her button making machine.

button

Josie came up with the idea to make more of these buttons, and sell them on Etsy to raise money for the New York Theater Workshop, which is currently running Lazarus, a musical written by David Bowie, as well as to raise money for cancer research – and I thought it was a great idea, so she’s selling the buttons we’ve made.  If you want to pick up one of your own, you can get one from Josie’s Etsy store for $3.

Josie’s got a little something to share about the process, too:

Anyone who knows me knows I love buttons. I have a bag covered in them and am planning a button-covered dress to debut at New York Comic Con (or an earlier event, if I complete it before then). I got a button-making machine for my birthday, but had not yet designed or created any of my own pins by the time David Bowie died a few days later.
I’m not ashamed to say I was devastated by the death of my idol, and creating this button with Beth gave me an outlet to do something with my grief. Even if nothing comes of it, even if I only sell a few, turning my grief into something proactive and positive helped me to heal. I hope it did the same for her.
-Josie

And it did help me heal. Together we ended up crafting for a cause, with my design skills and her button maker.  Making the design felt like a good creative outlet for my feelings, and helped me process them in a productive way, and it helped Josie as well.

David Bowie Rest in Peace button – $3.00, Etsy

Evolving Collections

And no, I’m not talking about Pokemon here, heheh.

One of the things I’ve noticed as an emphatic collector of things that relate to my most loved fandoms is that my collections tend to evolve, especially the longer I end up in the fandom.  When I’m building my collection, I tend to buy anything and everything relating to my favorite show or game.  Sailor Moon hairbrushes?  Sure, I’ll buy six!  Twilight Sparkle toothbrush holder?  This would be amazing in my bathroom!  Princess Peach change purse?  Doubt I’ll ever use it, but Princess Peach stuff is so freaking rare that I’ll buy anything I see with her face on it!  Toothless coin bank?  You’re coming home with me, buddy.  Anything with a scooter on it?  I MUST HAVE IT.  And so on.

But after a while, I get overwhelmed with the largeness of my collection.  At one point, I must have had about fifty little brushable My Little Ponies.  And my Sailor Moon collection, back in its heyday, was absolutely ridiculous.  I had such silly things like a Sailor Moon birthday party set – cups, plates, etcetera – still in its original packaging.  And six Sailor Moon hair brushes.  I’ve got a couple pictures below of the Sailor Moon collection, circa 2005, along with other assorted anime goodies – forgive the quality, the photos were taken on a digital camera that was old in 2005…

I also used to own a Princess Toadstool cookie jar.  (Oh, the stories I could tell about wanting that silly cookie jar, and my excitement when I finally got it…)

The Princess Toadstool cookie jar, with me in my first foray into costume-making, circa 1997.

And don’t even get me started on the My Little Pony collection…

Read More

Spoiler-Free Review! Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

starwars

It’s the movie everyone’s been talking about all over the internet the past few weeks: the new Star Wars movie.  After the mess that was the prequel trilogy, I know a lot of us Star Wars fans (myself included) were wondering what J. J. Abrams would do with the series.  Would he ruin it or change it beyond recognition, like the Star Trek films?  (Don’t even get me started on the Star Trek films by J. J. Abrams – I like them, but… yeah.  Don’t get me started.)  Would he fill it up with lens-flares?  Would it be more of the unpleasantness that was the prequel trilogy?

I’ll admit, I was nervous about seeing this movie.  I’ve seen the prequels.  I’ve watched Episode I too many times to count, mostly because it was the first movie at the drive-in every freaking week during the summer of 1999.  I didn’t see Episode II and III more than once, though, because they were mediocre.  They felt weird, compared to the original trilogy.  I was worried that The Force Awakens would be more of what happened in the prequels.

However, I was pleasantly surprised.  Very pleasantly surprised.

Read More

10 More Free Nerdy Cross-Stitch Patterns!

Last year, I did a collection of free cross-stitch patterns – and everyone loved it!  I think that’s one of the most viewed posts on the blog.  So, as a holiday treat, I’m going to share ten more awesomely nerdy cross-stitch patterns that are completely free!  Simply click on the image for your desired pattern, and it’ll take you to the pattern’s website.

TARDIS Quote Pattern

tardispattern

Read More

Books to Keep Warm With this Winter

Well, the weather here in Bloomington isn’t exactly super wintry, but it definitely is a bit rainy here – and one of my favorite things to do when it’s rainy and wet out, aside from crafting, is reading – as I’m sure you’ve all figured out by now. 🙂 And since most of us are probably enjoying some much needed time off, how about picking up one of these books to keep warm with while enjoying the holidays?  I’ve read all of these, and they definitely rank as some of my favorites.

The Finishing School Series, by Gail Carriger

D1Q5RERz1OS._SL250_If you’re interested in steampunk, you might want to read the Finishing School series by one of my most favorite authors, Gail Carriger.  The entire series is out now, with the last book only having been released in November.  Follow the adventures of Sophronia Temminick as she enters into a finishing school that’s not quite what she’s initially expecting… There are plenty of exciting adventures in the series to keep you reading for hours!  I’m currently re-reading my way through the series.

The Finishing School Series on Amazon

 

The Explosionist, by Jenny Davidson

explosionistIf you’re an alternate history fan, or interested in a good murder mystery, give The Explosionist a read.  Set just before World War II, in Scotland, the story follows a sixteen year old girl named Sophie who ends up pulled into an investigation of the sudden death of a spiritual medium that had a strange message for her…  The book was a little odd at points, but it was definitely a page turner, and I’d recommend it for a good afternoon read.

The Explosionist on Amazon

 

 

 

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

notwHow on earth have I not recommended this book on my blog yet?  This book pulled me out of a depressive funk years ago, where I hadn’t read a single in an entire year (!!) – I tore through this in a week.  This is part one of a three-book series, following the story of Kvothe, a magician and musician with quite a storied past.  I’m not sure how much I can say about this without giving away too much of the plot, so all I will say about this book is that you won’t be able to put it down – everyone I’ve talked to who’s read it has said the same thing.

The Name of the Wind on Amazon

 

 

Written in Red, by Anne Bishop

writteninredAnne Bishop is an author whose books I’ve been enjoying for years – her first books were very good, and as she’s written more and more, her stories and writing style just keep getting better.  I’ve mentioned The Others series on my blog before, and Written in Red is the first book in the series. It focuses on Meg, a young woman who can tell the future when her skin is cut, and her escape from her handlers that ends with her seeking safety in the Lakeside Courtyard.  However, that’s only the beginning of the story – trouble ends up following her to the Courtyard…  For those of you who like fantasy novels and supernatural creatures, such as shapeshifters, this book (and the series it’s part of) will definitely catch your attention.

Written in Red on Amazon

 

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

fortuneFortune’s Pawn was the first of many books read in Gail Carriger’s book group – it’s a sci-fi story set mainly in outer space, focusing on the story of Devi, a mercenary, as she takes up a new position on an allegedly cursed trade ship, the Glorious Fool.  Along with Devi, you’ll meet an interesting cast of characters, including the strong and attractive Rupert, the daydreamy Nova, and Ren, who proves to be quite a mystery.  If you like Firefly, Star Wars, or other space dramas, you’ll enjoy Fortune’s Pawn.

Fortune’s Pawn on Amazon

Fixing up a Comm Badge, the Crafty Nerd way

Earlier this week, I was wracking my brain, trying to find a good idea for a blog post.  Should I write about yarn?  Nah, too boring.  Should I show off the blanket I just finished?  Eh, also boring.  It wasn’t until yesterday evening, when I was working on patching up a piece of a costume I’d ordered, when the idea flopped into my lap, almost literally.

IMG_20150918_192630

I’d ordered a Star Trek: The Next Generation costume off Amazon (my costume crafting skills aren’t quite up to making Starfleet uniforms yet, sadly), and while the costume itself fit, and the rank pips were beautiful, the comm badge was… less than stellar.  Granted, the picture above is after I’d started sanding it, but there were large chunks of paint that had flaked off and stuck to the costume package, which left a lot of big black spots where you can see the plastic.  Being the crafty nerd that I am, I didn’t let the sorry state of the comm badge get me down.  Instead, I grabbed some of my mini painting tools and set to work!

IMG_20150918_193921

After sanding the loose paint off the badge, I took it outside and sprayed it with primer – the good stuff I use for my minis is possibly packed in a box somewhere, but I did manage to find some other primer in the garage, so I worked with what I could find.

IMG_20150919_065914

Post-primer, it already looked lots better than it had when I’d gotten it, haha.  I let it dry overnight, and then before my workshop this morning, I broke out the paints!

IMG_20150919_070825

The paints I have are old, and a little lumpy, but they worked for what I needed them for.  (I need to get a new set of paints one of these days…)  I worked with some Chainmail Silver and Glorious Gold paints from my mini painting stash, and managed to get the badge all painted before I got to work!  I primed it after I got home, and the results were pretty good.

IMG_20150919_110054

It’s not super glossy like the replica Starfleet communication badges you can get from places like ThinkGeek, but considering the whole costume cost $35, my paint job got the job done.  Ross has a comm badge lurking around somewhere, and if he can’t find it, I may splurge and get one of the fancy Voyager ones, even though it doesn’t match the TNG era uniform, since the main reason I got the costume is so I could dress up as my favorite captain…

tumblr_inline_ntnumsJY3r1qa04wd_540
Okay, so it’s a dress uniform, but close enough, right?

Granted, it’ll be Janeway in a TNG era uniform, but in order to get a proper Voyager uniform made for me, I’ve gotta spend $80 to order it from FanPlusFriend, the place I used to get my frilly Japanese gothic lolita clothes from, and I wanted something quick for Halloween.  However, if I do end up going to Starbase Indy, I might splurge and get the more show accurate costume…  Once I get some pictures of me in my costume (I’ve got to get my hair cut and freshly dyed first!), I’ll happily share them here! 😀

Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

127455 After my vacation in Florida towards the end of May, where I tore through a ton of books rather rapidly, I found myself lacking in the books-to-read department.  I’d finished the last of the new books that came out earlier this spring, I’d read through a couple of my favorites by Stephen King, and even read through the first book in the Mercy Thompson series – and couldn’t think of any other books I had been interested in reading.  So I took to Goodreads, and looked for suggestions based on the books I’d read (that I’d actually entered into Goodreads, anyway.)  And as I was poking through the suggested books, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch popped up.  I’d heard it mentioned around the internet as a good book to read, and so I figured, what the heck, I’ll go to Amazon and buy it.

And then I saw this review on Amazon, and absolutely knew I’d enjoy it.

“Right now, in the full flush of a second reading, I think The Lies of Locke Lamora is probably in my top ten favorite books ever. Maybe my top five. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have read it, you should probably read it again.”—Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind

If Pat Rothfuss, whose books I absolutely adore, says the book is good, then by gods, I should probably read it, right?  So I picked it up.  And I couldn’t put it down.

Read More

March Book Madness! (and a contest!)

visioninsilverMarch seems to be the month of the year where all of my favorite authors conspire against my wallet and release books from their ongoing (or new, as in the case with one author I adore) series.  And this year is no exception – I have not one, not two, but three books from authors I enjoy coming out this month.

The first one is Vision in Silver, by Anne Bishop, which was released on March 3rd, 2015.  I’ve been following Anne’s works since 2004, when a friend of mine gave me a copy of the Black Jewels Trilogy, the start of what turned into a seven book dark fantasy series.  He said “this isn’t really my style, but maybe you’ll like them?” as he handed me the stack.  I devoured all three in roughly three days, and then got excited when I learned she was still publishing stories in that universe!  Vision in Silver is a novel set in the world of The Others, an alternate universe to our own filled with Anne’s unique take on supernatural creatures.  You’ll find shapeshifters, vampires, and prophets in the world of The Others.  The setting for the books is a modern-day society where these Others are more populous than humans – and don’t take kindly to humans trying to encroach on their territory.  Vision in Silver is the third book in the series – I’m currently finishing the first book, Written in Red, to refresh my memory before I read through Vision in Silver.

PrudenceCoverThe next book I’m excited about is Gail Carriger’s Prudence, due to be released on March 17th, 2015 – it’s the first book in the Custard Protocol Series.  Gail’s already written two book series’ in this universe, a steampunk version of our own world set in the late 19th century with a heaping dose of the supernatural.  I’m excited for this series – Gail’s first books, the Parasol Protectorate series, got me incredibly excited about the steampunk genre.  Her writing style is sassy and sometimes over the top, her characters are strong and likable (especially Alexia Tarabotti, Prudence’s mother), and there’s a liberal dose of humor sprinkled throughout her novels.  Plus, the way she writes her vampires and werewolves is refreshing – a different take than most books.  Her vampires are fashionable and almost prissy, and her werewolves are humorously rough around the edges.

With this being the first book in the Custard Protocol series, I’m not entirely sure what to expect.  What familiar characters will we run into during Prudence?  What sorts of ridiculous adventures will we get to read about?  And – the biggest question, for Gail’s fans – will everyone’s favorite vampire, Lord Akeldama, be making an appearance?  With this being a new series, readers who’ve never dipped their toes into the world of Gail Carriger’s novels can jump right in and not be lost, and then read through her other two series (The Parasol Protectorate series and the Finishing School series, a set of young adult novels set in the mid-19th century in the same universe as her other books) if you decide you want more.

Diamond-Conspiracy_finalAnd last, but certainly not least, is the latest entry into the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris – The Diamond Conspiracy, set to release on March 31st, 2015.  The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels are also in the steampunk genre, taking place in the late 19th century as well, and focus on two characters who are just about as different as night and day – Wellington Thornhill Books, the Ministry’s dashing archivist, and Eliza D. Braun, a field agent for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.  Where Books is quiet and calm, Braun is very in-your-face.  They take very different approaches when it comes to solving problems, and as you might expect, eventually opposites end up attracting… one of the sub-plots from the first book ends up working its way to a more major plot point as Books and Braun end up developing feelings for each other.  The books (of which The Diamond Conspiracy is the fourth) are full of action and adventure, mystery and intrigue, and interwoven with various subplots that help tie the stories all together, with a heaping helping of steampunky goodness thrown on top for good measure.

I’m so excited over having a month of good books to read, some of which I’ve been waiting a while for – and I’m going to share that excitement with you, with The Crafty Nerd’s first ever contest!

The Crafty Nerd’s March Book Madness contest!

The rules for entering are simple: post a comment on this entry with what book you’re excited about that’s coming out soon, and the winner (chosen randomly) will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card!  Pick up the Kindle version of that book you’ve been wanting, or put the gift card towards a hardcover copy of something you’ve been looking forward to reading!  The contest will run until March 20th – so tell me what you’re looking forward to reading soon!

Discovering Star Trek

I’ll admit, in some ways I’m a bit of a late blooming nerd.  I may have been playing video games since I was in kindergarten, in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, and I’ve been a fan of science-related things (especially anything related to the solar system) since my dad brought home the Adventures in the Solar System book and book-on-tape combo when I was six.  (And yes, that link takes you to the same audio book I listened to as a kid, although with a different book cover.  Oh, the nostalgia…)  But I’d never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer until 2013.  I hadn’t read Ender’s Game until I was in my late 20s.  And I hadn’t seen any Star Trek, aside from Generations when it was in the theaters (it was my first date ever!) and the reboot movies, until very recently. Despite having a mother who really enjoyed Star Trek, though, I never really got into it.

Now these guys all feel like my best friends, haha.
Now these guys all feel like my best friends, haha.

Ross, however, grew up on Star Trek.  He can rattle off the specifications of half the ships in the show, and tell you about all sorts of connections between the various series of Star Trek.  Heck, he just flopped down next to me with the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual and is reading it while I’m writing this.  And me, being the curious person I am, and looking for something new to watch, and having enjoyed the reboot movies and shows like Firefly and Farscape, figured I’d see what Ross enjoyed so much and jump in with Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The only knowledge I went into the show with was that there was an android in there named Data, that Patrick Stewart played Jean-Luc Picard and was generally pretty damn awesome, and that LeVar Burton was in it (I watched a lot of Reading Rainbow as a kid, and was pretty excited to see him in something else).  And Whoopi Goldberg was in there somewhere.  And that they were all on the USS Enterprise.  But that was it.

Now, a couple months after watching my first episodes of The Next Generation, I’m following the entire cast of TNG on Twitter.  All my alert noises on my cellphone are various alert tones and computer noises from Star Trek.  (I get very confused when the Enterprise gets hailed when I’m watching TNG, as I’m not sure if the ship’s just received a message or if I have)  I watch at least an episode a day, if not more, and I’m almost halfway through season six of The Next Generation – and I just started season two of Deep Space Nine.  I’m seeing what pulled everyone else into the world of Star Trek.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed about watching Star Trek is that some of these episodes really tug at your feelings.  I’ve become attached to the characters, and care about what happens to them.  I freaked out when Dr. Crusher mysteriously disappeared for the entirety of Season 2 of TNG, and was incredibly relieved when she came back for season 3.  I watched Wesley grow up from a whiny little teenager and enter Starfleet Academy.  I felt so many feels every time Data would long to be human, and would try his hardest to emulate human behaviors to become more like his crewmates.  I eventually grew to like Counselor Troi, and I can even tolerate her ridiculous mother now.  (Barely.)  Watching Worf deal with the fact that he’s got a son, and watching him be a parent, is equally touching and hilarious.  (I may have recently watched Too Many Datas, and spent half the episode laughing…)

And there’s more to it than the feels I get when watching particularly good episodes.  I’ve gotten sucked into the fandom. I spend time poking around on subreddits dedicated to Star Trek, and enjoy reading through new fan theories and interesting discussions.  I watch ridiculous videos of You Tube captions failing horribly when it comes to captioning video from a Klingon video game.  I make up lyrics to the opening theme songs.  (Just ask Ross.  They’re ridiculous, and change almost every time I watch an episode…)

And I realized, once I run out of episodes of The Next Generation, that doesn’t mean that I’ve run out of Star Trek.  I still have all of the original series to watch, and Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, and Enterprise if I’m feeling desperate (I’ve heard it’s not very good), as well as all the movies.  And there’s even more than that.  There are books, and websites, and even more to go explore.  And it’s ridiculously exciting.  I feel much like I did when I discovered Sailor Moon, or My Little Pony – absolutely hooked.  I may be a nerdy late bloomer, but I’m glad I discovered my passion for Star Trek when I did.  I think I’m enjoying it more now than I would have had I tried to watch more than one episode on my tiny black-and-white TV as a kid.  You have no idea how excited I am to watch more episodes of the show, read more crazy fan theories (like the one where Guinan is apparently a time lord), talk about what I’ve seen with friends, and learn all there is to learn.  Ultimately, the Star Trek fan in me is what grew out of the little girl who used to sit in her dad’s den, listening to Adventures in the Solar System on the surround sound, looking at the brightly colored pictures of the planets and listening to the somewhat sci-fi-esque adventures of a little boy and his robot that can turn into a spaceship.  That little girl loved learning about space and the planets, and daydreamed about going out there herself someday – and this grown-up woman, well, she still dreams about it, and while she can’t exactly hop on a spaceship and go fly around the galaxy, she can lose herself in the stories of characters who do.

Comic books, markup, and geeking out with an academic purpose

For those of you who’ve been following the blog since I started writing early last year, it should be no surprise to you that three-quarters of the year, I’m up to my nose in school work, earning my Masters degrees in Information and Library Science.  (And yes, that’s right, two degrees – I added the Library Science degree on at the end of the spring semester last year.)  And as most of you know, I try my hardest to work my nerdiness into, well, everything I can.  You’ve seen my cube in my office building, covered in My Little Ponies.  You saw Scooterlou with her yarn-covered wire basket.  (And I saw Scooterlou recently – and she still has her basket cozy attached!  A fellow crafter bought her, and is considering sewing beads onto her cozy, but I digress!)  So, it should come as no surprise that I’ve managed to work my nerdiness into my graduate work – and that it’s come effortlessly, too.

One of my professors (and my academic advisor), Dr. John Walsh, is a comic book fan.  A large one.  There’s a big chunk of his office dedicated to action figures.  He’s even created a markup language entirely dedicated to comic books: Comic Book Markup Language.  I learned about CBML during the Digital Humanities class I took with Dr. Walsh last semester, and of course got very, very excited about it – in fact, so excited that I delivered a presentation on it for one of the presentations we had to do.  In short, CBML is an extension of the Text Encoding Initiative guidelines that gives digital librarians and archivists a markup language that’s more appropriate for documents that combine both text and graphics on a page – like comic books, for which the markup language is named.  You can use it with the TEI guidelines to mark up an entire comic book – sound effects, scenes, advertisements, news, and fan mail.  (If you’re interested in learning a little more about CBML, you can either check out my presentation from Digital Humanities last semester, or you can read this article by Dr. Walsh from Digital Humanities Quarterly.)

A snippet of a page from the Twilight Sparkle issue from the My Little Pony comic micro-series.  You can see a scan of the original inked page in the background of the header - I actually own that page!
Part of my presentation from last semester: a snippet of a page from the Twilight Sparkle issue from the My Little Pony comic micro-series, all marked up. You can see a scan of the original inked page in the background of the header – I actually own that page!

One thing that I noticed while doing my research on CBML for last semester’s presentation is that aside from a few snippets in the Digital Humanities Quarterly article, and from some examples on the CBML page itself, there’s not really any large-scale projects using CBML out there for people who are interested in seeing exactly how it works, and how an entire page from a comic book may look when it’s completely marked up.  I talked to Dr. Walsh, and asked if he’d mind if I started putting together some examples of CBML so others could see how it looks when it’s in use for existing comic book pages, and maybe build up a small repository of comics.  He said it sounded like a great idea, and while it’s been off to a slow start (moving got in the way, and then sorting out a schedule for the new semester), I’m currently working my way through marking up the first issue of Captain Marvel Adventures.  And once I have that put together, I hope to put together a small website where people can actually view the marked up pages, and download the XML files that are working behind the scenes to display images and text together.

I plan on documenting the process as I go along – and what better place to talk about it than here, on The Crafty Nerd?  After all, marking up pages from a comic book feels partly like assembling a craft project – you look at the page, and assemble the markup pieces to build the textual version of the graphical page.  And, come on, we’re working with comic books here.  This project will be right at home here. (And besides, I’m not quite sure if I want to start a third blog just for this project, unless it really takes off and becomes something huge.)  I hope to post something here every few weeks about the progress I’m making, and even show some of the work I’ve done!  And if any of this sounds of interest to any of you, my readers, feel free to get in touch with me – I’d be happy to ramble on about CBML with you.

Instant Reaction: Sailor Moon dub episode 1!

I’m sure many of you have already heard that Viz has released a new version of the Sailor Moon dub, far better and more accurate than the DiC version from the mid-’90s.  Well, the DiC version was the one I grew up on – and while it’s what sparked my nearly two decade long love of Sailor Moon, it was incredibly cringe-worthy.

Exactly.
Exactly.

So, when I found out that Viz had redubbed the English version, and remastered all the original Japanese music, I had to give it a watch.  I wasn’t entirely sure I’d like it, considering how very used I am to the old dub voices, but I had to watch.  For science. (And, conveniently enough, it’s on Hulu!)  And as I started watching, I caught myself posting my reactions to Twitter – and then realized it might just be better to collect them all here, to share with everyone!  So, here’s my in-the-moment reactions to the first episode of the new Sailor Moon dub!

Read More

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Hunger_gamesYes, I admit, I hadn’t read The Hunger Games trilogy until, well, this past week.  I finished The Stand sometime on Thursday night, and needed something to read that wasn’t Stephen King… so I poked around on Amazon until I saw The Hunger Games, and realized that while I’d seen the movie, I hadn’t read the books yet.  And usually I’m the type to read the book WAY before the movie comes out!  (With the exception of Twilight.  I only read the books after the first movie came out because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  I’ll hold back on my opinions on the Twilight series, haha.)  I was in the mood for something new to read, and I really did enjoy the movie version of The Hunger Games, so I sat down and read it.  And blew through it in a day and a half, and ended up signing up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited when I realized it would cost less than buying Catching Fire and Mockingjay combined!  (And once I’ve got some more experience with that, I’ll likely be reviewing that too!)  And then blew through most of Catching Fire.  And then I realized – hey, I should write about these books.  They’re good.  So, here’s part one of my review of the Hunger Games trilogy!  There will be spoilers.  You have been warned.

Read More