Thursday, April 30, 2015

iZombie ep 7: Maternity Liv - This week, Liv is Tiger mom!

First off, I'd like to clear up something. In the pilot episode, the Lieutenant was sitting at a desk with a nameplate that said "C. Abe" so I had assumed that his name was Lieutenant Abe. He was never addressed by name until this episode - unless I missed it before, and I've been referring to him as Lieutenant Abe in my past recaps. So I'd like to correct that and apologize for the confusion. Going forward I will be referring to the character correctly.

Liv gets maternal this week, when she eats the brain of a pregnant teen. This makes for some interesting and funny interactions between her and the people around her - she starts mothering everyone. Ravi is understanding but weirded out by it, Evan is annoyed by it, her mother is taken aback and even Liv is embarrassed by her actions. Later, things seem to get strange with Lowell, and Liv doesn't understand right away. Major seems to be going a bit too far by taking things into his own hands with the search for the Candyman, and that spells trouble for Clive. Evan is told to get a job, so he starts looking.

Check out the recap after the jump, and tell us what you think in the comments section below!

First Official Look at X-men: Apocalypse's Jubilee and Jean Grey!

Director Bryan Singer has not exactly been secretive about his upcoming film X-men: Apocalypse. Just like with Days of Future Past, he's decided to take every opportunity to tweet and instagram hints, teases, and outright releases from every aspect of his newest X-film. Today is no different, because today we get our first official look at Jean Grey (Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones) and Jubilee (Lana Condor, who's brand spanking new) in costume on the set. And it's an adorable picture.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Scream Queens - New series from the creators of Glee and American Horror Story to air on Fox this fall

They're at it again - the creators of "Glee" and "American Horror Story" and Fox are bringing us a new anthology series! Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck, the first season of the new horror/comedy series  "Scream Queens" will center around a college sorority. In 1995, a pledge had gone very wrong (as these things do). Now, on the 20-year anniversary of the crime, the campus is rocked by a series of murders. Someone is out for vengeance. Here's a teaser:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fantasy Adventures (IRL!) Level 2 by Justin

Ding! Congratulations on reaching level 2, nerds! Justin checking back in with some more exciting adventures from New Zealand. Above, notice the view from Bluff Hill Lookout. This is a spot in Napier that's one of the first to see the sun rise in the morning. If my geography is any good at all, all of you US readers are like a zillion miles across the ocean from this picture. Pretty sure that's mathematically accurate. (+50xp)

When we last left off, I gave a rundown of the wonderful land of Hobbits. Well, on the way back from Hobbiton my driver informed me that there was one space left for Black Water Rafting at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves the following day. How about yes? Not going to lie, it was expensive. But well worth it.

 Just jumped off of a small dock backwards in anticipation of several underground waterfalls where we'd need to do the same. (+100xp)

Oh, and you might notice that rafting is a relative term. All we had to navigate with was our own inner tube. And despite the name, the water wasn't black. It was just dark down there. So I guess it was neither black, nor rafting, exactly. Silly kiwis.

The caves themselves were incredible. Glowworms glow overhead, and at certain points the guides have you shut off all of your lights and just drift down the underground waterway taking in the scenery above you. I don't want to ruin the majesty of it in case you manage to get there someday on your own, but if you can't stand the suspense go ahead and google it. I will give you a tiny peek though:

This is the tail-end of our 2 and a half hour journey through the earth. (+200xp)

As part of the return trip from Waitomo, I also got to stop in at the Kiwi House, a place where they keep many of the birds from the country. Anyone who knows me at least a little bit probably knows that I'm not a big fan of birds. I don't trust anything that can poop on me that easily. Though most of these were flightless birds, so I guess they were alright. Kiwis themselves are kind of adorable:

Even if they do look like a cross between a porcupine and a plague doctor.  
(I'm giving myself +50xp for that joke. I kill me.)

After my time at Waitomo and the Kiwi house was up, it was back to Auckland for a bit to get ready to leave for Napier and my first actual job in En Zed. After $31 and a 9 hour bus ride through a landscape that looked Photo-shopped, I arrived in Napier, Art Deco capital of New Zealand.

Cool shit like this is all around this town. It reminds me of Fallout. Minus the whole deathly wasteland thing.

I had one night in a YHA hostel along the waterfront and in the morning went to my new place of employment/temporary accommodation, Napier Prison.

Home sweet home! Looks super welcoming, huh?

My job here is to give guided tours and do audio recording/office work for the prison in exchange for living in my own jail cell, for free. The prison itself is really interesting. It has history dating back in the mid 19th century, and is supposedly haunted. Adorably, my coworkers (in particular Ciaran-- that's right, I'm calling you out on the internet, Ciaran. Now you know it's super cereal,)* refuse to take the self-guided audio ghost tour. I did it by myself, in the dead of night on my 2nd night here. (+250xp) For the most part it wasn't so bad, though I did jump once after a stray cat meowed loudly from outside the prison wall... right when I was listening to the part about a ghost cat. Yes, there's a part about a ghost cat.

There are stories of murder, suicide, baby farming (it's not as adorable as it sounds), hangings, accidental deaths, all sorts of stuff in this prison. Even the wall above was built by the prisoners in a quarry across the road which is now a beautiful garden complete with a running waterfall. That's right, they made the prisoners build the wall that kept them in.

Hard to believe this used to be loaded with gruff New Zealand inmates. It's so purty now.

There was one minor hiccup about two weeks in when I woke up in the middle of the night and got the traveler's sickness I was promised. You don't want pictures of that (not that I took them.) I felt like a sorority girl after five too many Jager-bombs (+500xp You don't know, man. You weren't there. YOU WEREN'T THERE!)

When my month here is up, I should be heading to the south island for some hostel work. I will be sure to keep up with the photojournalism for you lovely armchair travelers. It's going to be winter for me here so I imagine snow is in my future.

They call flip-flops "jandals" which is short for "Japanese sandals." Also, swimsuits are known as "Togs." You should watch this video about it.  It's funny. And informative. Fun-formative. I also tried something called an L&P Bar. L&P generally makes this lemon soft drink that is labeled "Good Lemonish Stuff." The bar itself was sort of like lemon-infused white chocolate with pop rocks in it. That's the best description I can give. (+100xp)

Until next time, Gadget! I mean, nerds.

*Ciaran has since moved on from the time I wrote this article, (such is the nature of backpacking) and I think he finally took the tour right before he left, so the emotional impact is gone, but the intention remains.

Justin Rhodes is a writer currently on a massive adventure to New Zealand.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Steam Workshop allows mod authors to sell their work. Steam users are revolting.

UPDATE: Valve has cancelled the paid mod program. Here's is their official statement:

We're going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop. For anyone who spent money on a mod, we'll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree.

We've done this because it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing. We've been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they've been received well. It's obvious now that this case is different.

To help you understand why we thought this was a good idea, our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it.

But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim's workshop. We understand our own game's communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there's a useful feature somewhere here.

Now that you've backed a dump truck of feedback onto our inboxes, we'll be chewing through that, but if you have any further thoughts let us know.

So apparently this is big news: you can now buy community-authored Skyrim mods on the Steam Workshop, with more games planned to follow suit.

I say "apparently this is big news," because when I heard about it my reaction was "well, duh." It makes perfect sense to expand the role of the Workshop as a marketplace for community content. Making real-world livings off virtual-world goods is at least as old as Second Life, and you can already make good money on the Steam Workshop by making items for TF2 and a couple of other Valve games. Nothing about this concept is revolutionary.

I have since been informed that the fact that some mod authors may have the temerity to ask people to pay for the fruits of their labor has caused great outrage among people who believe that other people should be forced to work for them for free, and that by thus stepping out of their rightful place, these mod authors will surely upset the social order, planes will fall from the sky, dogs and cats will live together, et cetera.

Now, I'm a big fan of free software. I've used a lot of free software, and I've written a lot of free software. I love it when people make cool stuff for free and give it away. I even have a fairly casual attitude toward table scrap-pilfering grabasses who are either unable or unwilling to part with money and use stuff for free that other people have to pay for, as long as they at least feel a little guilty about it.

That said, if you feel so entitled to the fruits of someone else's labor that you'll loudly claim the moral high ground over them because their attempt to make a living off their passion project might impede the flow of free stuff from them to you, you need to go mow some yards.

I realize that it might be a bitter pill to swallow when I just put it like that, so I'll take a little more time to paraphrase and respond to some of the specific asinine complaints and concerns that I have read on these Internets about this whole thing, which in a reasonable world would not even merit a discussion.

What do you mean, I have to pay for this meal?  I cook for fun all the time!
Q: I thought modders made mods for fun? I don't get paid to play mods and whine about them on forums, why should they get paid to write them?

A: The difference between you and the modder is that the modder has produced something that is valuable to you, whereas you are producing nothing of value to anyone. See how that works? If you can find somebody who's willing to pay you to play games and be obnoxious, more power to you.

Look, not all hobbies are created equal. Some hobbies are just a pleasant way to spend time, providing some form of instant gratification with very little investment of talent or effort required. Some hobbies take the form of long projects, where months of sweat pay off with the satisfaction of a job well done. Some things that some people do as hobbies just for fun are done by other people as their full time job in order to earn a living, and sometimes people cross over from being hobbyists to professionals, or vice versa. The thing that makes it possible to do a "hobby" professionally is your ability to make something that other people want to have, and are willing to pay money for because they're unable or unwilling to make that thing themselves.

Q: Mods aren't real games; why would anyone ever pay for them?

A: If you're asking a question like this, you probably think the line between "mod" and "game" is a lot sharper than it is. A number of popular standalone games on the market today started their lives as mods, and started getting sold on their own (often with the same exact technical underpinnings) once they reached a popularity threshold sufficient to be worth that effort. There are also a lot of games that are developed commercially using engines licensed from other companies, which is essentially all a mod is -- building on someone else's game engine to deliver your own experience. Ambitious mods can represent years of hard work by multiple people. What it comes down to is this: if a "mod" provides you with the same amount of novel entertainment as a new game, why would it be worth less than a new game?

And if somebody tries to charge you $50 for a slapped-together mod that's just a new hat for your horse or whatever, well, maybe don't buy that particular mod, unless you're really into hats.

Q: What if somebody steals content and puts it into a mod they then turn around and sell? What if people want to share content freely with other modders, but then the other modders unfairly profit off their work?

A: Hey, welcome to the entire history of human creative endeavors. People have been ripping each other off since the first cave paintings. Art somehow endures, even into the digital age. Partly because, as obnoxious as copyright law can be, this is exactly why it exists.

If you want to share something with other people but with certain restrictions, like them not being able to charge money for it, there's a Creative Commons license for that. If somebody violates the terms of your licensing (CC or otherwise), you have recourse under copyright law, and if that content is hosted on the Steam Workshop then Valve is going to have a legal obligation to help you protect your intellectual property.

Q: Isn't it unfair to have the game developer taking a cut of the mod sales?

A: Just like mod developers get to decide whether they want to release their mods for free, game developers get to decide whether they want to let other people use their engine for free. Mod developers put a lot of work into their projects, but they're still standing on the shoulders of giants -- there's a very good reason that most game developers try to use an existing game engine rather than building one from scratch, and it's very similar to the reason that so many game developers start off in mod development.

There are plenty of moddable games out there, and plenty of engines that are completely free to use -- if one particular game out of all of the other available options is the absolute best at what it does and it's the perfect fit for the mod you want to make, maybe that's worth paying for.

Q: I have questions or comments not addressed here.

A: Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below and await further instructions.

Sam Stafford refuses to write a bio. Get off his lawn.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Geekly Roundup, April 25th: Playing Games With Your Heart Edition

While we don’t have a podcast this week, we’ve got some fun things, some exciting things, and some strange and unusual things to bring you in this week’s Geekly Roundup!

First, though, a serious note: our hearts go out to those suffering from the devastating earthquake in Nepal and the families of the over 1,800 killed by the tragedy. If you want to provide help, both CNN and Mashable have put together lists of reputable charities working to render aid. Forgoing one comic, app, piece of DLC, collectible, or beverage this week will absolutely be worth it for someone in desperate need right now.

With that said, it’s a Geekly Roundup and so we have to move on to less serious but still terribly interesting news — read on!

 Perlman and LeFauve to write Captain Marvel

Already well-celebrated for their excellent penning of Guardians of the Galaxy’s screenplay, screenwriting team Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve have been tapped to write the script for the upcoming Marvel movie Captain Marvel. Given that this is a strong character with a lot of depth that has resonated strongly with a huge number of fans, the strength of Guardians makes Perlman and LeFauve a brilliant choice for a movie about Carol Danvers.

 Hideo Kojima doesn’t appear at Famitsu

From Kotaku, an account of one of Japan’s most prestigious video game award ceremonies — and the fact that both Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame and Konami as a whole were completely absent from the event, something not at all in line with Kojima historically. The strange confusion in Kojima’s status with Konami — one which the company refuses to explain and on which Kojima has remained oddly silent — has only grown deeper, as it was recently announced that the outstanding downloadable demo for PT will be disappearing from the PlayStation Store shortly.

 JK Simmons to visit alternate universe in Counterpart

The outstanding JK Simmons portrays a UN bureaucrat who discovers his department has a secret portal to an alternate universe in Starz’s new Counterpart, as related by Deadline. The series is written by Jungle Book remake writer Justin Marks and the first episodes will be directed by Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum; the series is described by Deadline as a sci-fi espionage thriller with a metaphysical twist.

 Final Fantasy XIV re-imagined as a fighting game

What do you do when you’re waiting for the release of your much-touted Heavensward DLC? Remake a major boss battle from your MMORPG into a Street Fighter-style game, of course! This YouTube video featured by Kotaku is a showcase for some of the fun visuals offered by FFXIV’s in-game assets. As the video itself points out, there are no plans to add 2D-fighting content to FFXIV, sadly for everyone else.

 Can you survive the Battle of Hogwarts?

Continuing the recent surge in quick-and-dirty choose your own adventure games on news sites, Buzzfeed brings us an enjoyable race through the Battle of Hogwarts featuring two non-main characters trying to contribute to the massive struggle at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Absolutely worth a read if you enjoy choose-your-own-adventures.

Elsewhere around the Internet:

Japan’s maglev train breaks 12-year speed record (Science Hook)

Navy creates clear clay armor (Popular Science)

Ada Lovelace reborn in graphic novel (The Takeaway)

Harleen Quinzel gets her first lab-coated action figure (io9)

A first look at Scream Queens (Entertainment Weekly)

Second Quest: A horrifying modern graphic novel fable based on The Legend of Zelda (Kotaku)

Tokyo Ghoul’s :re cafe is a real place, and you can go there (Kotaku)

And now, Downton Abbey characters battling with lightsabers (Nerdist; Rob James-Collier/YouTube)

Each and every one of these are worth a look, but if you’re at all Star Wars and/or Downton Abbey-inclined, the last one really deserves a glance; it’s a fun and rather self-aware romp that also goes towards James-Collier’s fundraising for the London Marathon. Tune in again next week for more from around the Internet in our next Geekly Roundup!

The Geekly Roundup is a weekly Ace of Geeks feature that brings together all the interesting things we've encountered across the Internet this week.  Contributions for this week's Roundup were submitted by Ellie, Ben, Raven, and Lauren.

Friday, April 24, 2015

iZombie Episode 6: Virtual Reality Bites

Hey everybody - sorry I'm late, but life the universe and everything happened, and I wasn't able to watch this on the night of the actual broadcast. I did pick up a few spoilers along the way before I did get to watch it, and they only made me want to see it even more. Now that I've finally watched it, I can say this: Holy shit! Oh - and, uh... ew?

With each episode, we are getting less of the vision-y type stuff and more deductive logic being used to solve the cases. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, though. I mean, a big part of the series premise is the whole "eat a brain, see what happened" thing. The characters are becoming much more cohesive as a team, and that's definitely a good thing. Each of the characters' skills contributes to a well-balanced group.

I'd really love to see Payton play a bigger part. I love Aly Michalka in this role. Sure, her character isn't absolutely necessary to the crime-solving part, but an attorney tends to look at the evidence in ways that a cop or medical examiner might not. That could provide some interesting flavor to the whole "whodunnit" angle. Besides - I'm getting attached to all of these characters, and it's not difficult for me to see them as real people that I would want to hang out with - hell, who am I kidding? I'm actually starting to wish I could be part of that team because they just have too damn much fun!

I can't help but wonder if Major is just bluffing about being able to move on. I think he still has it for Liv and he's just trying not to pressure her. Liv is clearly trying to move on with Lowell, but will she be able to? I hope we're not going to see her running back and forth from Major to someone else and then back again. Some things make for good drama, yes. But I don't think that would be one of those things.

I'd also like to see Major play a bigger role with the team, as well - and not just as the rejected love interest. As a social worker, there is so much potential to expand on the character. He could also transition into being a victim/witness advocate, or he could become a private investigator specializing in missing persons/cold cases. Hell, send his ass to the Police Academy and have him be Clive's new partner. Robert Buckley wears this role well, and the character seems well-suited to become more than just a recurring one.

Each episode has been better than the last, and there's so much potential for this to have a nice long run - as long as the character development keeps going the way it has been, the possibilities for good storytelling are endless, and y'all know how I love a good story!

What do you think will happen - will Evan actually get a job at the Meat Cute? Do you ship Ravioli, Livwell, or Limaj? How about the possibilities for Bliv? Any thoughts on the bromance ship Rajor? Hit the jump for the recap, and tell us how you ship in the comments!


Jared Leto as the Joker
Well Batfreaks, everyone had better get excited or start cringing because it seems there is a new Joker in town!. Since the first announcement of Jared Leto being chosen to play the iconic antagonist to the Dark Knight, fans have been wondering how Leto and the crew behind the Suicide Squad film are going to top the Heath Ledger Joker. Judging from the image it is certainly an interesting interpretation of the character. Not wearing the iconic purple suit  and covered in ink one might wonder if this joker will don his famous duds or spend half of the film shirtless to show off the ink. The metal teeth is an interesting touch as well adding a sense of menace and feral aggression in a single look. The ink seems over done to me as all the "ha ha's" and the smile on the arm and hand seem to lack any sense of meaning. However I am not one to discount Leto's abilities on the screen thanks to his brilliant performance in Dallas Buyers Club last year. While this is not a "conventional" Joker  (and it is weird applying convention to a seriously unconventional character), I think that possibly the minds behind the film are intentionally going away from the traditional look. This might be due to the fact that Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamil (voice acted), and Heath Ledger have all left an indelible mark on the character. Nicholson brought gravitas, Hamil was the joker of many geeks childhood via Batman the Animated Series, and Ledger brought true madness and unpredictability as well as linking him to the role with his death after playing the role. I know that the internet is prone to kneejerk reactions, but lets just hold off on one and give Leto a chance. We don't know much about the final look of the character and I for one am willing to wait and see.

David is a local historian, techie, home brewer, stage hand, gamer, and geek. He loves Star Wars and Shakespeare with equal passions and is prone to quoting it at random! 

Episode 147: Celebrate Star Wars!

This week, Kevin Custer joins Mike and Jarys to break down Star Wars Celebration! We'll discuss the new Jurassic World trailer, and then go straight into what we saw at the convention, including Rogue One, a breakdown of the brand new Force Awakens trailer, whether Palpatine is pure evil or has more depth than that, and end with a spirited debate on whether Jar Jar Binks is responsible for the destruction of the Second Death Star!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Star Wars Celebration: A "Casual Fan's" Perspective

The Force is strong in this one!
 This last weekend, I attended Star Wars Celebration 7 at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Like some conventions, this one moves around from city to city every year, and it even reminds me of another Hasbro Toys –centric convention, [Transformers] Botcon.  Since this IS a movie year, and I don’t have a chance to go to this convention every year, I jumped at the chance to go to Star Wars Celebration, despite its VERY HEAFTY $150 price tag for 4 days… that’s almost San Diego Comic Con pricey, and that’s NOT even the highest rate a paying convention-goer can choose.   

Renner and Evans call Black Widow a "Slut," and Why That's Not a Joke

The internet is pretty upset today, at two of its heroes, and I think it'd be good to have a brief discussion as to why. As you may have heard, an interview was released this morning with Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner. The interviewer asked a sorta softball question about "shipping," and how the boys felt about Black Widow being paired up with Bruce Banner, instead of either of the two of their characters. Renner responded with a joke, which you can see in the full clip after the jump.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WONDER WOMAN '77: All The World's Been Waiting For You!

Wonder Woman '77 illustration by Nicola Scott

Reading Wonder Woman '77 has brought me, along with many other self appointed geeks, back to a very fun era. In my particular instance, when I was a child, I had an incredibly elaborate process for watching Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman television show (yup...I just aged myself!). This involved becoming the character Diana, with whom I clearly identified and idolized. This transformative process was an obvious foreshadowing for my interest in an acting career. There were days of prep time involved that included: researching the character, finding & creating costumes, and processing or practicing the character's essence. By the time Wonder Woman would air each week, you could find an ecstatic child (me) who would mimic every single action she did. To give you an idea of the thought I had put into this and just how much I was dressed to the "T" in my character's garb, here's what I had utilized to make the entire uniform:

  • My mother's red boots, 
  • Blue underwear and a red t-shirt from my Underoos at the time. 
  • A golden belt made of yellow construction paper (or some other actual gold material), and yes, I had cut it into the shape of whatever belt style was appropriate for the season (NOTE: Season 1 belt was different than seasons 2 & 3). 
  • Rope which I had colored yellow and latched onto my belt (The rope style/draping also changed between seasons 1 and 2/3), 
  • A tiara made out of yellow construction paper with a red star drawn on it, 
  • A t-shirt on my head so that I had long hair like Wonder Woman, and...
  • Toilet paper rolls that I had cut, colored, and upon which I had drawn stars (the bracelet shape also changed between seasons). 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An X-man Comes Out in the Worst Possible Way

Fanart by JamieFayeX

If you’re anywhere on the internet today, you've heard that Marvel has decided in it’s new issues to expose one of their time traveling young X-men as gay. Normally, as a member of the LGBTQA+ community, this would be so exciting! Instead, I am left with nauseating rage. My straight friends were confused as to why this entire set of panels makes me feel like Marvel is dipping into Mugatu's medicine cabinet!

I mean, come on!

So first off, let’s start off by saying this... Just because there’s LGBTQA+ representation does NOT mean we should be automatically happy about it. DC has had a habit of handling it very poorly, whereas Marvel has had a habit of handling it very well. So that’s what makes this even more upsetting. This treatment of the characters in this scene is extremely disgusting and presents a lot of problems that are prevalent in our community and things we deal with everyday. It’s disappointing to see this ignorance out of a company who at one point was bold enough to put a gay wedding on the cover. It’s like going to an ice cream store and the ice cream has been flavored with... well... shit. Spoilers ahead. (Click on all the comic panels below to expand them.)

Star Wars X-Wing Bay Area Store Championship

Do you ever have that feeling that you just came up with a great idea, only to find out that someone else thought of it first?  That must be how Mike felt when he told me that there was an X-Wing store championship for the Bay Area going on.

In case you hadn't heard of what seems to be the fastest growing miniature game around, Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Games is a fast paced, fighter focused, miniature dogfighting game produced by Fantasy Flight Games.  Its starter set comes with almost everything that you need to play the game, from dice, to measuring sticks, to asteroid and space debris, making it one of the most accessible games available.  It has a large collection of pre-painted, medium detail plastic miniatures that come with their own stands, bases with information, and order dials, so the amount of time that you spend preparing for a game is quite minimal.  This might not attract those who are interested in the hobbying aspect of a miniatures game, but with the relatively low buy in cost, you will have plenty of time and money left over to buy, assemble, customize, paint and play that 10 man infantry squad from that grim dark space combat game you love so much.  Or you could just buy the Imperial line of X-Wing miniatures.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Star Wars Celebration Day 4: Rogue One Awakens

The final day of Star Wars Celebration was short, but booooy was it sweet. We learned more than we ever thought we would about the first Star Wars Anthology film, Rogue One, we saw the props from The Force Awakens, and we learned about next year's Celebration for the first time. Spoilers abound from this point on.

Jurassic World Reveals its Mega-Dinosaur in New Trailer!

This weekend has been insane for new trailers. First, The Force Awakens knocked our socks off. Then, Batman vs Superman disappointed us and Fantastic Four intrigued us. Now, Jurassic World is trying to take some of our hard earned money, and they may just succeed. Check out the new trailer for Jurassic World right after the jump.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

New Fantastic Four Trailer Finally Gives Answers... and Doom!

Above you can see the new Fantastic Four Trailer in all its story glory. We get to know a lot more aobutthe team and their origins....a research exploration team, "cracking interdimensional travel". We get to see much more of the interpersonal relationships in the group, which depicts Reed Richards as a young, approachable character, a peer of Johnny Storm. We also are introduced to the boogie man that is DOOM!

....but no details as to his story.

Enjoy the video above, true believers!

Star Wars Celebration Day Three:

Saturday of Star Wars Celebration was an incredible experience, but it was also the most crowded - while days Zero, One and Two  felt a little smaller and more intimate, Day Three was the full-on Comic-con experience. Lines were doubled in length, crowds were everywhere...and it was maybe the most fun we've had at the con all week. Check out our X-wing Experience, the newest news on Clone Wars, and panels with James Arnold Taylor and Mark Hamill!

Geekly Roundup, April 19th: All The Movies Edition

On this week’s Geekly Roundup, Mark, Lauren, and Jim tackle the possibility of a Sailor Moon video game, round up some of the latest news in movies including Wonder Woman and Star Wars, and discuss the animated insanity that is Ethan Nicolle’s masterful Axe Copcheck it out for yourself and pair it with the lovely selection of links below!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Star Wars Celebration Day Two: Battlefront and a Bad Batch

Star Wars Celebration is rolling in full force now, and we're here to bring you everything we saw on Day Two. It was a day of video game debuts, continuations of great stories, and of course, tons and tons of great cosplay. Here's the breakdown:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Star Wars Celebration Day One: Fully Armed and Operational

This day's a little bit of a cheat - I covered the first half of it in our Day Zero Report. But there's still a whole half a day left, and we saw some really cool stuff, from a panel with Ian McDiarmid, to brand new Star Wars arcade games, so sit back and enjoy our Day One Report!

First Batman v Superman trailer is Miller as Hell

Batman is a hulking, brooding figure straight out of a Frank Miller drawing, everyone hates Superman, and we end on a scene that sounds like the dialogue was plotted by the script writer of Predator. Yup, must be time for DC to make another movie.

Hit the jump to see the leaked Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Wars Celebration Day Zero - From Despair to Joy

Day Zero - 11pm.

 I've just gotten out of a far-too-expensive cab ride, and checked into my hotel. I received a text message while one the flight - one of my friends was incredible enough to head down to the line at 9pm, two hours ago, to get us a spot in the room for the Celebration Opening Ceremonies. So I grab my camera, ask the front desk for directions, and start walking.

Almost immediately outside my hotel, I run into two guys dressed as Jedi. And I know this is going to be good.

Second trailer for The Force Awakens is INCREDIBLE

Today is a great day. Everything is wonderful, the sun on shining, birds are singing, and I didn't get any sleep last night because I was laying on concrete for thirteen hours, waiting for the chance to see the Star Wars Celebration Opening Ceremonies. A full report on that in a few minutes, but for now, a present for you all.

This is the second, incredible trailer for the Force Awakens. It had me bawling from happiness by the end of the first thirty seconds. Do NOT miss it - hit the jump to see why.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wonder Woman Director Shakeup!

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting today, only a week after the departure of highly regarded director Michelle MacLaren's departure from the Wonder Woman film, that Warner Bros had already replaced her. Thankfully, it's still a female director - Patty Jenkins, who wrote and directed Monster, starring Charlize Theron in an Oscar-winning role. Jenkins was once attached to Thor: The Dark World, although that film ended up being directed by Game of Thrones' Alan Taylor.

While director shakeups are not entirely unheard of, one that happened this quickly on a film of this size is slightly worrying - even more so because the official statement from Warner Bros stated that MacLaren left due to "creative differences." Jenkins is incredibly talented and a great replacement, but with Warner Bros' propensity to play around with these adaptations, I'm officially only cautiously optimistic.

iZombie Episode 5: Flight of the Living Dead

This week's episode gave us a couple of interesting reveals, one which could lead to something interesting or sad - I haven't decided how I feel about it yet. Liv MET someone... It also seems like a case was left hanging - literally. The victim this week was a skydiver who happened to be a friend of Liv's. Several people were investigated for that case, but ultimately the suspect got away so the case remains open. Meanwhile, Major is still looking for his missing shelter kids, and nothing is resolved this week. Oh - NEWSFLASH! Lieutenant Abe takes his coffee with hot sauce! DAMMIT! Best. Ep. EVAR! Well... so far, anyway. I said that about the last episode too, and it just keeps getting better!

The new plot developments are starting to give me that familiar buzz at the base of my skull, and I cannot wait to see what's in store for next week!

Catch up with the recap after the jump, and let us know what you think in the comments!

Disney Axes Three Feature-Length Star Wars Films from Canon

In the upcoming paperback edition of Star Wars: A New Dawn there is a handy infographic that clearly outlines the new canon of Star Wars since Disney's acquisition of LucasFilm. Last year Disney had already released a brief list of canon including Star Wars episodes I-VI. As a fanbase we were prepared to see a lot disappear from the canon, largely considering the expanded universe. Pivotal characters such as Jaina Solo, Mara Jade, Jagged Fel, Kyle Katarn, and the development of Wedge Antilles have been removed from canon. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

SUPPLY AND DEMAND: Interview with Simu Liu

Screen shot of Simu Liu from a PSA for Kidney Cancer Canada

As a part of my commitment to illuminating the diversity issue in Hollywood, and also giving the entertainment industry great options for casting, I have been interviewing up and coming minority talent who are deserving of more prominent positions or roles in the industry. Today's interview with Canadian actor Simu Liu not only inspired me, but also really filled me with hope for a better future. Primarily because he articulated so well what I think all people who are endeavoring to change the status quo have been saying. I think Simu has a lot of great things to say, and I won't taint them with too much flowery speech. I'll just let the interview speak for itself. I hope that you enjoy this clear, articulate, powerful, and inspiring interview half as much as I had conducting it. Enjoy!

Simu, How long have you been acting? 
3 years.

What made you transition from Accounting to Acting? 
A series of accidents, honestly. I was laid off from my job in April of 2012, and decided that I'd take some time to just do what I wanted for a while, before I got back on the job hunt. I had always wanted to be an actor, and so began to apply wherever I could to whatever role I could play. I managed to build up a small demo reel after doing a lot of unpaid student work, and paid the bills with my severance package and from being an extra on movie sets. I had never intended on doing this as a career, but I knew that I loved it. On a whim I applied to a small agency that accepted me onto their roster and within a month I had booked a national commercial. As the bookings kept on coming, I slowly realized that I could potentially be a professional actor!

Today, I'm working in the industry, but don't take a moment of it for granted. I never had a theatre school education and so I take as many intensive classes as my funds will allow. Every day I wake up empowered in a way that I never felt as an accountant...I've been tremendously blessed in the industry so far and I can't wait to see what the next three years have in store for me.

Screen shot of Simu Liu in the short film Raider Origins

What was your friends and family's reaction to this choice to change occupations? 
Being an actor or artist of any sort was not an acceptable career path for my family, so I mostly kept everything hidden. The point where I had to sort of 'come out' was when I had a national commercial that I knew was about to air, and I knew that I couldn't keep the secret any longer. Initially, there was a lot of tension between my parents and I, and understandably so because they had invested so much into my education and upbringing. It must have felt like a slap in the face for them, seeing their only child stray from the path that was so carefully carved out for him. They always wanted the best out of me as a kid, and I carry that attitude towards my acting career. My parents may not understand it, but they are a big part of why I have been able to find success in the three years that I've been acting professionally. I'll always be grateful for the way they raised me, even if they do not fully support my career decisions.

Have you ever had a chance to work with anyone you really admire or has influenced you? 
I just wrapped a television series with John L'Ecuyer, who is a director I deeply admire. Once a heroin addict living on the streets, he faced the darkest places of his mind in ways that I am scared to even imagine, and then came out of it as the most kind, generous, nurturing leader. John has taught me an unfathomable amount of what it means to be honest with yourself, and also that it's okay to be broken because everyone is in some way. I consider this education to be hundreds of times more valuable than what I was forced to learn in school.

Screen shot of Simu Liu in the CTV hit series Played

Have you worked with any really big celebrities and if so, what was your experience? 
I actually worked with Nick Cannon just a couple of weeks ago, on a Nickelodeon show called Make it Pop! He was a consummate professional, and there are a couple of things about him that really stood out to me: First, the dude learned his lines instantly. I don't think anyone really understands how busy someone in that position is - Nick had flown in late the night before and hadn't had time to look at his lines. He showed up at rehearsal still looking at the script, and once the cameras were rolling he delivered every line perfectly and in character. Second, he is not the same person as he is on television. I don't mean that in any negative way; it's just that I think we are all used to seeing someone who is slightly goofy and practically bursting with energy, but he really is very mature and professional whenever the cameras are off. He was very friendly and encouraging and I hope I get the chance to work with him again soon.

What was the first big set of TV show on which you worked? 
The very first television show I had a speaking role for was Nikita, and that was huge, but I'll never forget the very first set I ever saw. I replied to a Craigslist ad looking for extras for the Guillermo Del Toro movie Pacific Rim, and I got to walk onto a set worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I saw Ron Pearlman stride past me through the set, smoking a cigar and talking casually with Guillermo about his blocking, and all of a sudden I felt like a child again. That pretty much did it for me; I knew I would never want to be anything else as badly as I wanted to be an actor.

Screen shot from the MachinaPrime original web-series Omega

How did you land your role on Nikita
Nikita was like the third thing I ever auditioned for. I had two lines, but I was nervous as all hell. I went in for Tina Gerussi, the casting director, did my take once, and was told "thank you." I think even seasoned actors have trouble hearing the 'thank you' line, so you can imagine how I was killing myself. What did that mean? Why didn't I get a chance to do it again? Was she going to think that I wasn't talented and never bring me back in?!? We got the offer a couple of days later, although it felt like a millions years worth of waiting.

How was your experience working on Nikita
So incredibly nervous. I was watching the crew around me making adjustments and my gut was turning itself inside out and twisting and turning in all sorts of ways. My legs were shaking. I remember everything about that day because I think my body was in a state of hyper awareness, kind of like when you're in a panic. I remember the quinoa salad I had for lunch, the tiny little trailer I got, and of course the constant fear that I was going to mess the whole day up and get fired. I had at one point finally mustered up the courage to introduce myself to Shane West, and after making small talk with him I realized I had never told him my name. I don't beat myself up about it though - I mean, who wouldn't be utterly freaking petrified in that situation? Fortunately things eventually got easier for me, although I remember my two days on Nikita very fondly.

Screen shot from Simu Liu from the episode of Nikita in which he appeared

You have worked on shows like NikitaWarehouse 13, and Beauty & The Beast...are you a comic book or sci-fi fan at all? 
No doubt. HUGE fan. I was an only child and growing up my parents worked extremely hard to provide for me. As a byproduct to that, however, they never really had time to entertain me. I would get dropped off at the cinema early on a Saturday and get picked up at night, after which I would have watched the new X-Men movie three times. I was a bit of a loner in school so I frequently found myself trying to escape into other worlds where the unlikely hero discovers his great destiny and wins the adoration of the people who once overlooked him. I'm into sci-fi now for slightly different reasons - I think science fiction gives us an opportunity to envision societies free from the constraints of the modern day, free of things like poverty or sickness or discrimination. A good story will teach the audience many things about the world we live in today using a world which is completely different.

What kind of things were you into and why? 
Star Wars because X-wings and lightsabers. Star Trek because of how aspirational their portrayal of the human race is, X-Men because of the parallels to civil rights, and because I honestly don't know who the good guys are (Magneto could just as easily be the protagonist, and I'd be much more interested to see that story than another Wolverine movie). Mortal Kombat because Subzero is a certified badass. Halo because I dominate with a battle rifle on Xbox Live. God, I could go on forever. I need to get my butt to San Diego Comic Con stat!

Screen shot of SyFy's Warehouse 13 episode in which Simu Liu appeared 

Do you have any other skills that are under used or specifically do you have skills of which people aren't aware you possess? 
Dude, totally. I am a great singer. I taught myself how to sing at a young age because I was not able to approach girls. I figured if I were a Justin Timberlake or JC Chasez, then girls would finally like me for who I am. Turns out my crippling insecurity actually worked out for the better in this case! In all seriousness, I would love the opportunity to sing onscreen or on stage. I also do a killer British RP and Australian accent, but alas, have never had to break them out.

Have you produced or directed your own projects? (If so, what were they and why did you do them?)
I think any actor today would be foolish not to learn how to create their own content. I believe the days of waiting by the phone to get your big break are over. Instead we are seeing Hollywood ruled by people who can write stories and create their own opportunities. I recently wrote and directed a short film called Crimson Defender vs. the Slightly Racist Family, about an Asian superhero who rescues a family who turns out to be a little bit racist. I wrote the film because Asian males are not portrayed fairly in media today, instead commonly being cast as comic relief, the butt of a joke or a supporting character at best. I wanted to show the world that we can be superheroes as well. The film played at the ReelWorld Festival in Toronto and will screen in Washington DC and in Ithaca NY in a couple of weeks in a couple of film festivals! As long as I'm acting, I'll be making films as well.

Screen Shot from the Crimson Defender Vs. the Slightly Racist Family by Simu Liu

As an actor, what is something that you don't get to do very often? 
Go on vacation!

Do you have a problem with typecasting?
I don't have a problem with typecasting - what I do have a problem with is stereotyping. There's no doubt that some people just fit more looks than others - as you've mentioned before I tend to get cast in military roles, and that's fine. A good friend of mine (Owen) is so sinister looking it's hard not to imagine him in a villainous role. Typecasting is amazing because if you are being typecast you are getting work in the industry! However, I do feel that sometimes Asian males are stereotyped, meaning the roles that are available to us are caricatures based on racial stereotypes perpetuated by North American society.

Photograph of Simu Liu on the set of Open Gym, which he also wrote & directed

How do you see diversity happening in the film and entertainment industry? 
Hollywood is starving for more diverse stories and perspectives. I truly believe that audiences are beginning to tire of watching the same thing onscreen over and over again. We need to see more Asian, South Asian, Latino, Black, and Native voices in writing rooms and in director chairs, and in order for that to happen our parents need to see the value in allowing their kids to pursue careers in media and show business. Families of all ethnicities have a wealth of stories to share, but they can only be put onscreen by qualified writers, only be brought to life by good directors and only be performed by skilled actors. Our talent pool is shallow right now because there are just so few of us - I dream of a future where careers in the entertainment industry are seen as important and vital to the preservation of the many cultures that represent our great countries. Then, we will have South Asian writers telling amazing stories. We will have Native directors countries who will craft films in new and exciting ways. We will have Asian actors who are highly skilled. All because they were encouraged to foster their interests form an early age.

What do you think are steps which need to happen in order to improve diversity in Hollywood? 
I think it's important to realize that Hollywood operates like any professional industry - it's bound to the demand of the people who consume it's product. If Hollywood is going to become more diverse, it is the audiences that must show their support. If we are paying money to watch the next Transformers in theaters with all white leads, guess what we are gonna keep getting? We have to put our money where our mouth is if we truly want the landscape of Hollywood to change. Shows like Blackish and Fresh off the Boat have to be rewarded for taking casting risks, and movies like Exodus: Gods and Kings and Cloud Atlas, in which characters which are clearly ethnic characters being played by white actors, must be punished. Studio executives are not stupid people - they're not going to keep casting white people in non-white roles if it doesn't pay off. On the flip side, there's no incentive for them to cast with racial accuracy if Christian Bale (or any other famous white actor) will guarantee them more profit in their pocket.

Screen shot of Simu Liu as Paul Xie from Blood and Water 

Are you working on anything right now for which we can keep a look? 
Yes! I just wrapped a lead role on a show called Blood and Water, which has been an incredibly special experience. Aside from being my first lead role on a show, it's the first Canadian show with an all-Asian cast and dialogue which is over 50% in a language other than English (Mandarin). I think the fact that we have a show like this is indicative of a paradigm shift in Hollywood and in show-business in general.

How do you see yourself empowering others to realize their dreams and aspirations? 
I hope that I can use my life as an example to teach a couple of important lessons - first, that you should never live your life chasing someone else's idea of success, and second, that your dreams become a reality the moment you begin to work towards them. Dreams are great to have, but to get to the place you dream of, you need to set specific goals, and you need to work your butt off!

Thank you, Simu. I think that everyone is already benefiting from your professional example and I look forward to seeing a lot more about your endeavors in the future.

Brian J. Patterson is an actor, writer and producer who splits his time between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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