Author: Beth

I am The Crafty Nerd! :D

Gen Con 2019 planning: Cosplay

Ahh, cosplay – it’s one of the things I really enjoy doing at conventions. Every year, I spend a chunk of time thinking about what cosplays I should do for Gen Con. And of course, 2019 is no different. Back in February, I wrote about a couple of costume ideas I had, including Lapis from Steven Universe, a casual Usagi costume, and potentially resurrecting my Pinkie Pie costume. However, if you’ve been reading the blog recently, you’ll notice I’ve tossed those ideas out the window for something new.

Not only did I pick new costumes, I’ve even got a theme this year: strong women of sci-fi. For my Gen Con 2019 cosplay, I’ll be going as Jadzia Dax and President Laura Roslin!

Jadzia Dax and President Roslin, the two characters I'm planning to cosplay as for Gen Con 2019.

Why the cosplay switch?

There are a couple of reasons I switched to Jadzia and Roslin for Gen Con. First off, the hotel Ross and I originally had for Gen Con was out by the Indianapolis airport, and that meant planning comfortable cosplay outfits. That takes Sailor Moon out of the running for this year (oh god, those boots were PAINFUL), and possibly Pinkie Pie as I typically wear a corset under the costume to help everything sit nicely on my frame. I also wasn’t sure about Lapis, because she wears flip flops – which can be problematic. Flip flops aren’t always comfortable, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want unprotected toes while wandering the dealer’s hall.

So, this brought up the following question: what the heck am I going to wear to Gen Con?

The ideas: Roslin and Jadzia

You might remember from pretty much every What I’m Watching post up until May that I finally got to watch Battlestar Galactica – and one of my favorite characters is President Roslin. She stood up for what she thought was right, and did what she thought was best for the survivors of the 12 Colonies. Sure, she may have made some questionable decisions, but in Battlestar Galactica, who didn’t? Throughout the four seasons of the show, I ended up growing really attached to her character. When I realized I have a suit in my closet that looks like something she’d wear, the idea to cosplay as President Roslin was born.

I’ve also been wanting to cosplay as Jadzia for a while. She’s my favorite character in all of Star Trek, for a number of reasons. First of all, she’s determined, as shown by the fact that she didn’t give up on her goal of becoming a Trill symbiont – even after initially being rejected from the program. Jadzia’s also very confident in herself, which is something I’m continually aspiring to be. And she goes adventuring with Klingons! How awesome is that?

The costumes

Of course, the most fun part of cosplaying is actually putting together each costume. While I don’t have to gather as much for President Roslin and Jadzia as I did for Sailor Moon last year, I’ve still got some costume assembly to do.

President Laura Roslin

One of my Gen Con 2019 cosplays: The suit and shirt I'm planning on wearing for my President Roslin cosplay.
Sure, the pant legs are a little wide and the jacket sleeves are a little short, but I can totally see Roslin wearing this.

President Roslin’s costume was really easy to put together – I already have everything I need for her cosplay in my closet! Between the dark brown pinstripe suit I picked up at a consignment shop years ago and a simple white blouse-like camisole, I’ve got everything ready for Roslin right now. I’ll likely wear my leather riding boots with her costume, as likely only the toes will be visible from under the pant legs. (If not, I’ve got other shoes I can wear.) I just need to try everything on and make sure it all fits. If not, it’ll likely have to be altered. Which brings me to Jadzia…

Jadzia Dax

One of my Gen Con 2019 cosplays: the Starfleet uniform for Jadzia, which is way too big for me at the moment.
I forgot to get a picture of myself wearing this before I brought it to be altered, but believe me, it looked like I was wearing oversized pajamas.

Jadzia’s costume is a little more complicated. The closest thing I’ve got in my wardrobe to Jadzia’s science officer uniform are a pair of Star Trek: The Next Generation science officer pajamas. Well-worn pajamas aren’t exactly what I’m looking for, so I decided to get a DS9-era Starfleet uniform from Amazon. I figured it wouldn’t be the greatest quality, since it was only $25, but it’s better than nothing, right? The last time I bought a Starfleet uniform from Amazon, it ended up being too small. So, I went a size bigger with this one.

That resulted in a Starfleet uniform that’s comically large on me. The crotch is down practically to my knees, and the arms and legs are way too long. If it were just the arms and legs being too long, I’d alter it myself. Altering the torso part, however, is a little beyond my skill level. Rather than try to fix it myself, I decided to take it someplace to get it altered. Thankfully, there’s an awesome place in town that does tailoring and alterations – Bloomington Stitchery! One of the owners (Liby, I think? I am bad at matching names with faces) nerded out with me about Star Trek and Gen Con while pinning up the uniform. I’ll be sure to post pictures again in a few weeks when the alterations are done!

And that’s where things are at with my Gen Con cosplay for 2019 so far – once my Starfleet uniform is altered, I’ll try that and my suit for Roslin on and share pictures!

What I’m watching: June 2019

Hooray, a What I’m Watching post that isn’t at the very end of the month! I’ve only watched a few TV shows so far this month – one’s a guilty pleasure of mine, and another is a suggestion of Ross’s that I really liked. Curious about what I’m watching in June 2019? Read on!

Riverdale season 3

What I'm watching in June: Riverdale. Photo features the main cast of the show.
Oh, you silly teenagers, getting into so much ridiculous trouble.

I’ll admit, Riverdale is a guilty pleasure of mine. My mom-in-law first introduced me to the series, and while it’s a little cheesy and over-the-top at times, I love it. For those who haven’t heard of Riverdale: it’s a slightly darker take on the usually cheery Archie Comics. There’s definitely a lot of teen drama in this show, and I often find myself shaking my head and saying “come on, kids, what the heck are you doing?”

The third season of Riverdale, recently released on Netflix, is no different. The gang ends up getting really interested in a roleplaying game, Gryphons and Gargoyles. Sounds an awful lot like Dungeons and Dragons, doesn’t it? However, the plotline takes a sinister turn when what I originally thought was a throwback to the D&D Satanic Panic of the 80s actually ends up involving some seriously evil entities. Season 3 of Riverdale honestly feels like Riverdale meets Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. (Then again, the towns of Riverdale and Greendale are close to each other, so who’s to say Sabrina won’t show up in Riverdale someday?)

While the show took a weird turn this season, I’m still enjoying it, and I’m really curious to see where things go. I’m only about halfway through season 3 at this point, so stay tuned to next month’s What I’m Watching to find out what I think of the second half!

Riverdale on Netflix

Chernobyl

What I'm watching in June: Chernobyl. Image is from the beginning of the first episode, featuring two of the power plant workers.
I kept yelling at the guy in the foreground, Anatoly Dyatlov, while watching Chernobyl.

Ross suggested we watch this one, and said it had good reviews, so I figured I’d give it a try. (Apparently fans of Game of Thrones feel that Chernobyl makes up for the last few episodes of season 8, haha.) And oh, it is good.

When the Chernobyl disaster happened, I was almost four years old, so I don’t remember hearing about it on the news. I’ve always been curious about it, though, and the Chernobyl mini-series does a very good job of putting a human face on the horrific accident. It’s one thing to read about it in history books, but to see it play out visually gives it far more impact. From the people working at the reactor the night Chernobyl exploded to the ordinary people whose lives it impacted, we get to see a glimpse of many different sides of the story.

I found myself on the edge of my seat a number of times while watching Chernobyl, and occasionally yelling at the characters to get out the reactor building or get away from their irradiated friends, because they’d die otherwise. Or yelling at Anatoly Dyatlov, the person in charge of the test that ultimately caused the explosion, because of his very bad decisions. There was lots of TV yelling with this show, heh.

If you’re in the mood for some more somber TV watching, or are interested in the Chernobyl disaster, this show is a great one to watch.

Chernobyl on HBO

Good Omens

What I'm watching in June: Good Omens. Image features Aziraphale and Crowley from the show.
I am so in love with this show, and I’ve only seen one episode so far!

I’ve been looking forward to this one, for a number of reasons. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, for one, and I was also excited to see David Tennant on screen again. It turns out that besides David Tennant, a number of other favorite actors of mine are in the show, including Jon Hamm and Nick Offerman! Good Omens did not disappoint (although at the time of this writing, I’ve only seen one episode so far). It’s very well done, and is one of the best book-to-TV adaptations I’ve seen. Then again, with one of the authors, Neil Gaiman, directing the show, how could it be bad?

Good Omens on Amazon Prime

And that’s the majority of what I’m watching this month! (Aside from Dark Matter, of course. I’ve only managed to watch one episode since the last What I’m Watching post, though. Which is a bummer.)

Keeping organized – the Magic: The Gathering edition

Welcome to another post in the Keeping Organized series – this post focuses on how I keep my Magic: The Gathering stuff organized. If you’re not all that familiar with Magic, you might think “come on, how much organizing does a deck of cards need?” Surprisingly, there’s a lot of other pieces that go into playing a game of Magic. When I started playing, I had no idea how much stuff went along with whatever deck I’m playing with. So, here’s how I keep organized when I’m playing Magic: The Gathering!

The bag

Image of a cream colored bag with the text 'Some days feel like Helvetica' on the front.
It’s not exactly a Magic-themed bag, but my inner typography nerd loves it – and it fits all my M:tG stuff perfectly.

First off, I have a bag to hold everything in. It keeps all my Magic stuff together so it’s not all over my house, and also makes it easy to grab and go when I want to play. While there are plenty of bags out there that are made specifically for holding Magic gear, I just use a simple tote bag. (I have no shortage of them, since I tend to collect them for project bags.)

If you’re looking for a Magic-specific bag, here are a couple that I’ve had my eye on:

USA Gear Deck Storage Bag on Amazon

Ultra Pro Gaming Case on Amazon

The deck box

A green, heavy-duty Magic deck box. It holds two decks of cards and also has a tray to hold extra accessories.
I love this deck box – it’s way better than the cardboard box my Saheeli deck originally came in.

This one’s kind of obvious. My deck box holds whatever deck I’m playing with, and it also holds tokens and counters that might be needed. The box I’m using now is a fancy one that holds two decks! (Eventually I’ll get a second deck.)

There are many different types of deck boxes out there, to fit any budget and any level of collecting. From simple cardboard boxes to heavy-duty storage, you’ll have no problem finding a deck box that suits you.  Here are a couple to get you started:

Ultra Pro Set of 5 Deck Boxes on Amazon

Ultimate Guard 200 Card Twin Flip N Tray Xenoskin Deck Case

Caseling Hard Case Bag for Card Games

A label maker

The same deck box shown earlier, this time focusing on the label on the front which says 'Thopterpocalypse - Izzet Artifacts Matter'.
Okay, so Saheeli doesn’t directly make thopters, but a bunch of other cards in my deck do – and it’s fun raining thopter doom on people.

While this probably isn’t necessary for those of us just starting out in the hobby, people with huge collections might benefit from a label maker. As you can see in the image above, it can be really helpful if you have a lot of pre-built decks and need to know what’s in each deck box. (Plus, it’s fun coming up with silly deck names, haha.) There are lots of options for label makers out there, and here’s a link to the one my friend J has:

Brother P-touch Label Maker on Amazon

A container for extra accessories

A tupperware container holding some small dice, a Magic: The Gathering health counter, and a dinosaur token counter.
Sometimes, simpler is better – and this is about as simple as it gets for keeping M:tG accessories together.

While my deck box does hold a fair amount of stuff, it doesn’t hold everything I need to play Magic – and that’s where my little tupperware container comes on. It currently holds health counters, dice, and regular counters, and I could easily stash extra tokens in there too. Depending on how many extra accessories you have, you might need a little more than just a tupperware container, though. My friend J, for example, has a large organizer that holds lots of counters, health counters, and other things that might come in handy when playing.

Large plastic container with the Magic: The Gathering logo on the front, holding lots of dice, health counters, and glass pebbles that are used as counters.
And sometimes, you need something bigger to keep all the bits and pieces you need organized.

You can probably find an empty container laying around at your house to use, if you need one for your extra Magic pieces.

A card holder

Wooden card holder, holding up seven Magic cards.
Best $10 I’ve ever spent.

This is quite possibly my favorite piece of Magic gear. It’s pretty simple: just a piece of wood with slits cut into it to hold up my cards while I play. This simple little piece of wood helps me see all my cards at a glance, and I can use it to keep them organized while I play. It also makes it so I can crochet or knit while I’m playing, which is an extra bonus.

Hardwood Card Holder on Amazon

Websites to keep track of my cards

I’m currently using two sites to keep track of my cards: MTGGoldfish and TCGplayer. MTG Goldfish will be more useful to me in the future, when I have more than one Commander deck.  TCG Player is definitely more helpful for me now, as it helps me keep track of all the cards I have. I figure keeping track of everything now, when I’m just starting out, will be way easier than trying to catalog everything later if I end up with a large collection of cards.

MTGGoldfish

TCGplayer

What to read after finishing Patrick Rothfuss’s books

A photo of myself with Patrick Rothfuss from Gen Con 2017.
I love this guy’s writing so much.

You’ve heard me say it before: Patrick Rothfuss is an amazing author. His writing pulled me into a story told in two parts: the story of Kote, a humble innkeeper, and Kvothe, a swordfighter/singer/magician who has been through a heck of a lot in his life so far. When I first read Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear, I tore through both books over the course of two weeks, eagerly reading whenever I had the time. When I finished Wise Man’s Fear, though, I had no idea what to read next. You might have asked yourself the same question: what to read after Patrick Rothfuss?

Fear not, fellow Patrick Rothfuss fans: you won’t have to go through the reading crisis I went through back in 2013, as I’ve got some good suggestions to keep you occupied until Doors of Stone comes out. (Or at least distract you for a little while.)

Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn and Stormlight Archives series

Cover of Mistborn.Brandon Sanderson is a prolific writer.  I swear, this guy is a writing machine.  He manages to get a book out nearly every year, without fail. I am in absolute awe of his writing skills. You might think “okay, he’s cranking out so many books so quickly, but how’s the quality of his writing?” Well, folks, it’s amazing.Cover of Way of Kings.

At a friend’s suggestion, I read the first book in the Mistborn series back in 2017, and I felt the same way I felt when I first read Name of the Wind.  I was so embedded in the story of Vin and Kaladin that I ended up tearing through all the books in no time. The same thing happened with the Stormlight Archives series, which starts off with The Way of Kings. I picked it up as a free giveaway from DAW a while back – while The Way of Kings starts off a little slowly, it picks up after the first few chapters. Each chapter is from the point of view of a different main character, similar to how Game of Thrones was written. Just like with Mistborn, I found myself pulled into the story and didn’t want to leave when I finished each book.

Since I am notoriously horrible at describing book plots, I’m just going to link directly to the series on Amazon, instead of trying to cobble together a plot summary.

The Mistborn series on Amazon

The Stormlight Archive series on Amazon

Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series

Cover of Mistborn.Oh, the Codex Alera series. I’ve talked about this series before on the blog, and it still remains one of my favorites. The series starts as a coming-of-age story similar to Kvothe’s, and evolves into an epic battle to save the people of Alera – and the entire world. Codex Alera shows just how versatile Jim Butcher’s writing style is, too – it’s different from the first-person storytelling of The Dresden Files, but is just as engaging.

The Codex Alera on Amazon

David Eddings’ The Belgariad

Cover of Mistborn.The Belgariad was actually my first foray into the world of fantasy novels, back in high school. All these years later, the series still stands strong and is still an engaging read. It’s another coming of age story that focuses on Garion, a farm boy who lives a quiet life with his Aunt Pol. The Belgariad is an introduction to a much larger story, so if you find yourself enjoying this series, there’s definitely more where that came from.

The Belgariad, Vol. 1 on Amazon

The Belgariad, Vol. 2 on Amazon

Do you have suggestions for books that Patrick Rothfuss fans might like? Share them in the comments!

Ten nerdy cross-stitch patterns under $5!

Ahh, cross-stitching – it’s one of my favorite hobbies, especially when combined with nerdy stuff. There are lots of nerdy cross-stitch patterns out there, for almost any fandom you can think of! While I’ve done free cross-stitch pattern collections in the past, today’s post features inexpensive patterns available on Etsy. In fact, each pattern here costs less than $5.00! All of these nerdy patterns are available digitally, so you can buy one, run off to your local craft store and get supplies, and get stitching right away!

The Patterns

Here’s what you’re here for: the patterns themselves! Hopefully you’ll find one you like!

Read More

What I’m watching: May 2019

Welcome to another edition of What I’m Watching! This month I had to try to fill the void left behind by finishing Battlestar Galactica (just in time, too – Ross and I finished it just before it expired on Hulu!), so I ended up watching a little bit of a couple of shows as a result.

Dark Matter

Image of the cast of the TV show Dark Matter.

I’m still watching Dark Matter – I started Season 3 recently, and I love where the show is going. There have been all sorts of plot twists popping up recently that make me curious to see where the show will go. I don’t want to share too much about where things are at in the show, since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I will say I love Android. She’s my favorite character in the entire series, and I love her little bit of android sass.

Dark Matter on Netflix

Lucifer

Lucifer, from the TV show of the same name.

Lucifer made a brief reappearance in my TV rotation – Netflix released season 4 as a late birthday present, and I watched through it in a week. (What can I say? I do a lot of knitting and crocheting.) This season ended on one heck of a cliffhanger, though. I really hope that Netflix continues the show, since I want to see how the showrunners resolve that cliffhanger. I loved this season, though, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely check it out.

Lucifer on Netflix

Star vs. the Forces of Evil

Star and Marco from Star vs the Forces of Evil.

Ross and I were so far behind when it came to watching Star vs. the Forces of Evil – we hadn’t even started with season 4 yet, and it started airing earlier this year. However, we’re back on track now, and it’s good to see everyone’s favorite Mewni princess back in action again. I’m still wondering how they’re going to solve the big problem that ended Season 3, but I guess we’ll just have to watch more and find out.

Star vs. the Forces of Evil on Hulu (seasons 1-3)

Star vs. the Forces of Evil on Disney Now (all seasons)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

 

Harvey, Sabrina, and Nick from the tv show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is another show I’ve been watching lately. It follows the daily life of Sabrina, a teenage girl who’s half-witch, and how she handles balancing the two very different sides of her life. It’s an interesting take on the story of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, but if you’re expecting something similar to the 90s sitcom, this is not the show for you. It’s much darker, and sometimes I feel like it goes over-the-top, but if you like your TV shows on the creepy side, then you might like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And for those of you who like the show Riverdale but haven’t seen Sabrina, I suggest you give it a try – it’s set in the same universe as Riverdale, and has the same visual feel.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix

And that’s what I’ve been watching this month! Come back next month to see if I’ve discovered any new TV shows!

May 2019’s Nerdy Tidbits

Welcome to Nerdy Tidbits: a monthly series that collects all the little nerdy things that happen during the month that aren’t quite big enough for their own post! This month, I’ve got some costume planning, a nerdy moment at a bagel shop (of all places), and a short ramble about the first Kishar game of the year!

Gen Con costume planning

The first nerdy tidbit focuses on Gen Con costuming – which shouldn’t be a surprise! Costume planning is always a big part of my Gen Con planning each year, and this year is no different. It took me a while, but I finally figured out what costumes I’m wearing this year! I’ve actually got a bit of a theme going: strong women of sci-fi.

Photo-collage of President Laura Roslin (left) from Battlestar Galactica and Captain Kathryn Janeway (right) from Star Trek Voyager.
Two of my favorite strong women in sci-fi: President Roslin and Captain Janeway.

And this year, I only have to buy one of these costumes! I have a suit in my closet that I think should work out really well for Roslin – and if not, there’s always Goodwill. It might be a little tricky for people to immediately recognize me as Roslin – but I’ve got a plan for that. Thanks to the Denna costume I wore a few years ago, I have a bunch of name tags laying around… so I’ll just stick one on that says “President Laura Roslin” in big letters and hope that does the trick. While my hair might be a little too red to properly pass for Roslin, I think with some styling it should be close enough.

For Janeway, I’ve been meaning to buy myself a proper Starfleet uniform for a while now. I think this is as good a reason as any to get one. FanPlusFriend’s Costume Store has a Voyager-era uniform for a reasonable price, so I’m planning on getting the uniform there. I should be able to get my hair into a style similar to what Janeway’s got in the above picture, too. I’m excited about not needing a wig for either costume this year – the Sailor Moon wig from last year is more than enough wig, haha.

A nerdy encounter at the West Baden Bagel Bistro

Photo collage of a number of different minis and some homemade mini terrain.
You know, when I went in for a bagel for lunch, I didn’t expect to see minis, but hey, I’m not complaining.

Last weekend, I met the fine folks that run the West Baden Bagel Bistro, and found out they’re also a bunch of gamers! We talked about games we play, showed off minis we’ve painted, and generally nerded out. It was great – and I had a tasty bagel, too! If any of you find yourselves down in West Baden Springs, IN, you should definitely stop by the West Baden Bagel Bistro.

The start of Kishar: Season 8

Me, dressed up as my Kishar character, Ëlinyr. In the background, on the car behind me, is a plush Toothless wearing a brown headband that says "sand dragon".
Toothless and I in costume, and ready for a new season of Kishar!

This season of Kishar started off with a bang, so to speak – we went from an air of excitement and revelry to mourning the loss of the sultan over the course of the two-day game. (That new notebook I bought Ëlinyr definitely got a lot of use!) I’ll be writing up a summary of what happened from Ëlinyr’s point of view soon – you can find that summary over on Ëlinyr’s blog within the next few days, and I’ll also link to it here when it’s done.

And there’s May’s nerdy tidbits for you all – here’s hoping this turns into a fun series of little nerdy things!

Ëlinyr’s new notebook

The first official Kishar game of the season is this weekend! I’m excited to get my elf ears on and slip back into the role of Ëlinyr, the sassy thin-blooded elf scholar. I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the things I do to help myself keep organized when LARPing is to take notes – and other players find my notes really helpful when we try to figure out if events in past games have anything to do with what we’re facing today. (There’s a reason Ëlinyr ended up becoming the official scribe of one of the player groups in Kishar!) However, the notebooks I’ve been using for Ëlinyr, especially the most recent one, don’t quite exactly fit into the setting, appearance-wise.

Ëlinyr’s old notebook, which doesn’t quite look like it belongs in a fantasy LARP.

So, I bought Ëlinyr a traveler’s notebook, which looks like it’ll fit in with her character much better than the Arc Notebook I got from Staples a while ago, and even though I haven’t taken it to a game yet, I’m in love with it.

Okay, this looks much more setting-appropriate!

I picked it up on Amazon earlier this week, and I’m excited to put it to good use.  I’ve already done some writing in it, brainstorming some ideas for a coffee shop/bookstore that Ëlinyr recently purchased.

Yep, Ëlinyr’s officially an entrepreneur, in addition to being a scholar.

The traveler’s journal came with three notebooks (one each of lined, blank, and grid pages), a pen clip, and some additional accessories. I’d say this is probably one of the best purchases I’ve made for Ëlinyr since I started playing in Kishar, and I’m excited to use her new journal this weekend!

Traveler’s Journal on Amazon (Amazon affiliate link)

What I’m watching: April 2019

Hey, it’s still April, right? I didn’t miss posting this month’s edition of What I’m Watching!

Granted, one of the shows I’ve been watching this month is not a surprise: Battlestar Galactica.  Ross and I are finally in the home stretch, close to the end of season 4 – and we’re trying to finish it before Wednesday, when it’s due to expire on Hulu. I can’t let it disappear from Hulu without finding out what happens to Space Dad and President Mom! (or Adama and Roslin, heh.) Once we’re done, I’ll likely write up a long post about my thoughts on the show – and believe me, I have many thoughts about this show. Battlestar Galactica is amazing, and I love it.

I’ve also been watching Dark Matter, a show that Netflix recommended to my friend J – we figured that we should give it a shot, since we do enjoy sci-fi and space shows.  Dark Matter starts out with six people waking up from stasis on the starship Raza, with no memory whatsoever of who they are or why they’re on the ship. Since nobody has any clue who they are, they end up referring to themselves by the order in which they woke up from stasis – and their goal is to find out who they really are, and why the heck they can’t remember anything. What they find out early on ends up shocking them – apparently most of the crew of the Raza is wanted for murder or heinous crimes of some sort, which of course none of them can remember, and only one of the crew is innocent. (Or so we think.) So, in addition to trying to recover their memories, they also have to dodge the law and avoid getting caught by the Galactic Authority. I’m really curious to figure out what exactly happened to everyone.

I found myself getting attached to most of the characters really quickly – especially Android, who I just love. She’s got a little bit of humanity in her, just enough to show a little bit of sass and a sense of humor. I’d be fine with the crew leaving Three on a space station somewhere, though – he’s kind of a jackass. (It’s like he’s trying to be Jayne from Firefly, but without having any likable qualities whatsoever.) I’m currently midway through the first season, and some of the characters are starting to learn a little more about their history – aside from the fact that all of them except Five are some sort of criminal, that is. It’s definitely an interesting show, and if you like sci-fi space shows, you might want to give this one a try.

Battlestar Galactica on Hulu (until Wednesday, anyway)

Dark Matter on Netflix

Little things that make me happy

Work has been crazy lately, hence the lack of a post last week.  Until I’ve got some bandwidth to come up with a more interesting post, here’s a little bit of something to tide you over: some little things that have made me happy over the past few weeks.

First off: I found Star vs. the Forces of Evil socks at Hot Topic! Of course I had to buy them.

Yaaay for Star socks!

Also, it might be silly, but seeing Toothless in his costume for Kishar makes me giggle.  Since the sand dragon hat I made him looks more like a baseball cap, I dressed him up with a headband and tunic, much like humans playing NPCs and monsters might dress in Kishar.  I think he’s adorable.

Toothless is the cutest sand dragon.

And I can’t forget about Mia, the best little scooter in the world!  It’s riding season, and through the help of my friend Jake at work, I got some new vinyl decals made for her.  I doodled up the designs in Illustrator, and Jake turned them into decals!

I love how the decals turned out – Mia looks a lot more like I’m used to again.

I also got to nerd out about playing Magic with one of the interns at work recently, haha.  I need to play more, but my brain’s been consumed with work.  Poor Saheeli needs more attention!  (She’s the Planeswalker for the Commander deck I’ve got.)

I love raining down thopters on my opponents, haha.

Oh, the fact that Detective Pikachu comes out three days after my birthday (on May 10th – which is also a bunch of my friends’ birthdays too!) makes me pretty darn happy.  I can’t wait to see it!

I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to see Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu?

And finally, on May 11th, we’ve got the first official Kishar game of the season!

The “Fan Club” will be reunited, yay!

That’s a little bit of what’s keeping me going lately while work’s been crazy!  I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll be able to put together a very brief “What I’ve Been Watching” post (long story short: a lot of Battlestar Galactica) for April, before April’s officially over!

Tiny review: Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

How many of you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure book series? I remember reading through all the Choose Your Own Adventure books that my elementary school library had, multiple times, so I could get to all the endings.  Choose Your Own Adventure books were the best.

Well, did you know that there’s now a Choose Your Own Adventure game?

Well, there is, and I got to play chapter 1 of the game today at work!  (Yes, we got to play games for research purposes, so we can make our own choose-your-own-adventure-esque games – how awesome is that?) And oh, it was lots of fun.  I’m going to buy it for myself so I can introduce friends to it, because I know a lot of people who would really enjoy this game.

In the game, the player (or players – while this game can be played by one person, we played it with twelve today!) takes on the role of a detective who’s been having nightmares about a haunted mansion and its missing owner – so of course you have to go investigate it. Gameplay involves two decks of cards – the story deck, which is composed of cards that tell the story, and the clue deck, which includes tools that help the player out, clues that change the story paths available, and other information the players might find helpful.  The game mechanics also include a danger meter, which determines just how challenging any challenges that come up during the game may be, and the psychic scale, which we didn’t really get to interact with much today.  The game starts by a player reading the beginning story cards for the chapter, and the game progresses by making choices on what to do next, much like your typical Choose Your Own Adventure book.  However, unlike reading the Choose Your Own Adventure books, sometimes challenges appear that force you to go one way or another, depending on if you pass or fail.

The story itself is based on an actual Choose Your Own Adventure book, and that includes all the random dead ends and false starts and, of course, multiple ways your character can die.  We managed to die, what, four times today? We got buried alive twice, got strangled by plants once, and – my group’s favorite – killed by a pack of Dobermans surrounding a chimpanzee playing a violin. I’m not even kidding. (We’ve been making jokes about the violin-playing chimpanzee all day.)

As I said, we only got through the first chapter today, but playing the first chapter was so much fun! Part of that might have been due to playing with a larger group of people, with a chunk of us tending towards the nerdier side of things (there were a number of Doctor Who and Stranger Things references made while we were playing), but I think it’d be fun with almost any group of people. Heck, I can see Ross’s family having fun with this at the next holiday gathering. (Then again, we’re all huge nerds, haha.)

If you have fond memories of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, then you should give this a try!

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger on Amazon (affiliate link)

Getting ready for Kishar: season 8 (or: LARP laundry day)

It’s officially spring, and the weather’s getting warmer – and that means LARP season is coming!

The “fan club” is ready for a fight, haha.

I am really excited for the next season of Kishar to start. Granted, the first game isn’t until May, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start getting things ready now!

And folks, I’m really glad I decided to go through my LARP gear bucket now, instead of just before the first game. Due to the garage flooding during some insanely heavy rains earlier this year, all the gear I stored in there was either really musty smelling or covered in mold. So, I guess today is Ëlinyr’s laundry day!

Even thinblooded elves have to do laundry sometime…

Thankfully I only lost a sword frog and a shoulder bag to mold – everything else is getting washed! And I’ve even got some new stuff for this year, too, which I thankfully did not store in the garage. Like, for example, new elf ears! (and yes, I am wearing them while doing LARP laundry.) They’re a little smaller than the old elf ears, and they’re slip-on ears as well – given that Ëlinyr’s now a thinblooded elf, I think the smaller ears work better. (I am so glad she’s not a full-on sun elf anymore, I am so done with sweating glitter on hot days.) I also made a new skirt to go with an old shirt I made ages ago, and together with the trusty ol’ corset vest they make up a new outfit for Ëlinyr!

So stealthy. 😛

I’ve also made some adjustments to the “stealth” dress, as it’s been named, mainly adding some bias tape to the bottom to keep the edge of the dress from snagging on everything it brushes past. I had to remove a tier off the bottom of the dress when I first got it, to make it so I wasn’t tripping over it constantly, and the raw edge kept getting stuck on all sorts of things – sticks, thorny bushes, the buckles of my boots, and so on. The stealth dress was my first costuming piece, and I want it to stick around as long as possible. 🙂

Anyhow! I’ve also been brainstorming some story-related ideas for Ëlinyr for this season – especially since she’s now the owner of a coffee shop and bookstore (which still needs a name), as well as the owner of a rambunctious juvenile sand-dragon (think scaly Golden Retriever). Between the coffee shop/bookstore, the pet sand-dragon, adventuring, and teaching at the Royal Academy, Ëlinyr’s going to be rather busy this season, I think.

Now, here’s hoping the musty smell comes out of her gear. There are a few things I think I’m going to have to rewash because they still smell a little bit, so here’s hoping a good soak will take care of the mustiness in those last few items. Otherwise, I’m going to have to go shopping for LARP gear…

My new toy: a laptop actually made for gaming

For a couple of years now, I haven’t really owned a decent computer I could play games on. I mean, sure, I had my work laptop, Jadzia, who was a powerful behemoth when she was new, built for video editing – but she was my work computer, and I felt guilty installing video games on her, even if I never played them at work. I’ve got Nog, an old Lenovo ThinkPad that I inherited from Ross when he got a new work computer, but he’s nearly seven years old, and was never meant for gaming. He runs Stardew Valley pretty well, and Terraria runs alright too.  Sure, it took about five minutes to create a new world in Terraria, but neither of those games are too resource-intensive. I wanted to play more than just Stardew Valley and Terraria.  I wanted to be able to play more modern games, and maybe have a computer that could do some light video editing on top of it all.

Enter Sharon.

Sharon (named after Sharon “Athena” Agathon in Battlestar Galactica) is a brand spanking new Lenovo Legion Y520. And I love her.  She’s so lightning fast compared to most of the other computers I’ve used recently, and definitely the fastest computer I own. She can play Elder Scrolls Online with some pretty high graphics settings. She also handles video editing pretty well – I was able to use her to give a demonstration on how to use Adobe Character Animator, which is a pretty resource-demanding program, and everything ran really smoothly.

There’s Character Animator, doing it’s thing, picking up me smiling at the camera!

As with every piece of technology, Sharon has her pros and cons…

Pros:

  • Boots up ridiculously fast. I think she goes from completely off to functioning in less than 10 seconds. (I haven’t timed it, though.)
  • Everything in general is lightning fast, with a 7th gen i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB solid-state drive. It’s fantastic.
  • For a gaming laptop, she’s rather light – she’s definitely lighter than the Dell Precision I had as my work laptop up until last week, and that was built for video editing.
  • Lenovo laptops offer Conservation Mode, which helps laptop batteries live longer if said laptop is primarily used while plugged in.  It’ll keep the battery charged between 50 and 60%, which’ll help the battery live longer.  You can turn Conservation Mode off and charge the battery to full if you anticipate using it unplugged in the near future.
  • There’s a lot of open vent space on the bottom of the laptop, to help increase airflow and vent out all the heat that builds up when you’re gaming.

Cons:

  • With all the vents being mainly on the bottom, if the laptop isn’t propped up on some sort of cooling mat (or even something to just get it off the desk), it’s a little hard for it to vent out the heat properly.  I ended up getting a cooling mat, but have only used it while playing Elder Scrolls Online since it’s a rather graphics-intense game.
  • The fans are a little loud – and the system’s a little aggressive about keeping things cool, so the fan does kick on a fair bit.  I don’t mind it too terribly much, but Ross said he noticed it from the other room.
  • The laptop body picks up smudges from my hands pretty easily – it’s only a minor annoyance, but I do find myself having to wipe it down every so often to get rid of my smudgy handprints.

I was lucky enough to get the Legion Y520 on sale – the configuration I got typically retails for $1499 before tax on Lenovo’s site, but there have been multiple sales lately bringing the price below $1000 – which is a great price for such a good laptop.  If you’re looking for a sub-$1000 gaming laptop that’s ridiculously fast, and aren’t too concerned about having the latest and the greatest processors, then the Legion Y520 is a good choice.  I’m certainly pleased with it – and my friend Kasi even bought one for herself after I showed her how well Elder Scrolls Online runs!

Speaking of said laptop, though, I might have to go disappear to play some Stardew Valley. My farm is calling…

Legion Y520 Gaming Laptop – Lenovo

What I’m watching: March 2019

Here’s the March edition of What I’m Watching! Only two shows this month, but I’ve got a lot to say about both of them.

First off, I’m still watching Battlestar Galactica – I’m in the middle of season 3, and oh my god the feels. Not just about what’s going on in the show, but about the entire show in general. I’m not sure how many of my readers have already watched Battlestar Galactica, so I’m not going to talk about potentially spoilery things, but I will talk about some of my favorite aspects of the show.

One of those favorite aspects is how insanely talented the entire cast is. I may dislike some of the characters – Gaius Baltar, I’m looking at you – but gods, when it comes to playing Gaius, James Callis does an amazing job of bringing that beautiful idiot to life.  It’s the same with all the actors – I can’t think of a single one that makes me think “ugh, this guy again?” Plus, all the characters are so human – the entire show is full of the characters doing what they think is right.  There’s no black and white, no absolute wrong or absolute right. President Roslin, Admiral Adama, Starbuck, and Lee, everyone’s so human it almost hurts at times. Everyone’s just trying to do what they think is right. And each actor looks like they’re pouring their heart and soul into their roles, and it makes for one hell of a compelling story.

Speaking of characters being human: I love how Admiral Adama is a father figure to practically everyone on Galactica. (There’s a reason I call him Space Dad!) Sometimes that results in rough situations, especially with Lee, and sometimes it results in such heartwarming scenes that it almost makes me want to cry.  Space Dad is best dad.

I haven’t just been watching Battlestar Galactica, though. I’ve also been watching The 100, a show I started a few years ago when only season 1 was available on Netflix. I recently picked it back up again, and I’m really enjoying this show too.  So far, I’m in the middle of season 3, and the show definitely evolves over the course of the episodes I’ve watched – it’s gone from “juvenile delinquents doing stupid things while trying to survive in the woods” to a really solid and interesting sci-fi drama.

The show takes place almost 100 years after a nuclear disaster wipes out almost all life on Earth, and starts out in space: specifically, on the Ark, which is a massive space station constructed from existing stations after humans fled the disaster and went to space. Humans have been living on the Ark since the nuclear disaster occurred, and things aren’t going all that well when the show starts.  Overpopulation is becoming a problem, and while steps have been taken to try and slow down population growth (couples can have only one child, and criminals are sentenced to death by getting sucked out an airlock), the Ark is still in trouble: specifically, their oxygen supply is dwindling, and drastic measures must be taken to keep everyone on the station alive. Chancellor Jaha and his advisory council think that maybe Earth might be an option, but they want to make sure that the planet is safe before they send everyone down there to make new lives.

Enter the 100: a collection of kids and teenagers who’ve been put in detention for various crimes they’ve committed, all waiting until their 18th birthday to be re-evaluated and either released back into the population, or “floated” out an airlock. Instead of keeping all these kids and teenagers around until they hit 18, they’re chosen for a special mission. The 100 are sent down to Earth to see if the planet is livable again. The first part of the first season focuses on the 100 as they deal with their new situation, and find out that they might not be the only humans that survived.

The cast is full of talented actors, and includes some of my favorites, like Alessandro Juliani (also known as Felix Gaeta from Battlestar Galactica) and Henry Ian Cusick (who played Desmond in Lost). The story is really gripping, and I really love where the writers are going with the plot.  Speaking of writers: The 100 is based on a series of young adult fiction books by Kass Morgan, and I definitely enjoyed the books – but after book 1 and the first part of season 1, things really start to diverge.  It’s been interesting to see how very different the show is from the books, and see what the show writers do with the source material that Kass Morgan wrote.

And that’s what I’ve been watching this month!  Stay tuned to see if I ever finish Battlestar Galactica, or to see what other shows I end up picking up along the way!

Review: Stardew Valley (the mobile version)

Oh, Stardew Valley. You’re one of the reasons I bought a new gaming laptop (although you can still run on my old ThinkPad). I’ve spent many hours planting and taking care of farm animals and trying to get friendly with the villagers. And now, I can do all that on my phone, thanks to the recent mobile port of Stardew Valley! It finally made its way to Android a few days ago, and was released for iOS a couple months ago.  My review focuses on the Android version, but I’m pretty sure everything’s the same on iOS. For those of you who’ve never played the game before, Stardew Valley is a farming simulator, similar to games like Harvest Moon, where you’re responsible for taking care of a farm. In addition to making sure your farm succeeds, you also get to make friends with the villagers, as well as eventually start a family if you want to. You even get a pet! (I’ve got a cat.)

I’ve been really pleased with the mobile version so far – the developers did a good job of making it as enjoyable an experience on a mobile device as it is on a full computer.  The controls are easy to pick up – you can either tap a location on the screen and your farmer will move to the tapped square, or you can hold your finger on the screen and your farmer will follow in the direction of your finger. The entire interface in general has been customized for small touchscreen use, which definitely makes playing easier. For example, your entire inventory is visible on the left side of the screen, and you can scroll through all your items and tap on the one you want to use to make it the active item.

Farmer Ëlinyr, about ready to start her day, while Robin is hard at work building an expansion to Ëlinyr’s house.

The interface for shopping has changed slightly, too – while it’s not universal for all shops (for example, Marnie’s shop listings are displayed a bit differently than the items in Pierre’s general store), it’s definitely geared towards mobile use and makes it easier to tap on what you want to buy.

Let’s buy a chicken! Because everyone needs chickens.

The crafting menu, as with other similar menus, are also mobile-optimized:

Let’s make ALL THE THINGS for the farm!

Another thing I’ve really enjoyed that’s exclusive to the mobile version is the ability to zoom in and out on the map, which has come in helpful when I’m looking for things to forage or just want a large overall view of an area.

Oh hey, there’s a spiceberry down on the lower left corner of the map!

Plus, it has all the original story and townsfolk you’ve all grown to love, plus the new farm types that were released when co-op mode became available! It’s very easy to lose a few hours playing on the phone, that’s for sure.

That being said, there are a few things missing from the mobile port – specifically, co-op mode, saving games to the cloud, and the ability to sync games between devices and computers. While they’re not a deal-breaker for me, some folks might really miss these features. There is a work-around to make it so you can play save files from the desktop version of Stardew Valley on mobile (link focuses on iOS version of the game), but it’s a little labor-intensive and involves a lot of shuffling files around. I’ve just been setting up a different type of farm on all the devices I’ve been playing on, so I get to explore all the different farm types.

There are also a few things that have taken some getting used to, like the automatic tool choosing – sometimes it doesn’t work as intended, and you’ll need to manually choose the tool you need to do a job (like when cutting grass, you’ll need to manually select the scythe before attempting to cut anything down). There’s also an auto-fight monsters mode in the mines, but in order for that to work well, you’ll need to select your sword before starting to do any mining – otherwise, you’ll just end up attacking with your mining pick, which isn’t as effective. Also, I’ve found that it’s really easy to accidentally select an item from my inventory while trying to navigate to the left side of the screen, and if you’re not careful, you might accidentally end up giving it away to a villager if you don’t switch away from said item before trying to talk. (for example, I accidentally gifted Penny an artifact that she really didn’t like, whoops)

Overall, the mobile version of Stardew Valley is great! There are some bugs, given that the game just got released, but I’ve only encountered them when trying to play on my Chromebook (which I was able to fix by restarting the Chromebook), and the developers are working hard to get them fixed. If you love Stardew Valley, are okay with not having co-op mode and cloud saves, and have a little extra cash laying around, you should definitely pick it up for your mobile device.

Stardew Valley on the Google Play Store – $7.99

Stardew Valley on the iOS App Store – $7.99