Sunday, December 23, 2012

Episode 52: Happy Holidays from the Ace of Geeks!

In our last podcast of 2012, the Ace of Geeks Podcast dives into reviewing the Hobbit, discussing all the trailers for next summer's movie season, and the upcoming adaptation of Ready Player One! PLUS: With the Holidays coming up, we will teach your friends and family how to gift for a geek!

Episode 52!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Episode 50: Six inches of - no, I'm not calling it that. Part 2

Picture The 50th Episode of the Ace of Geeks Podcast is live! My god! Nearly three and a half hours of content to fill your eardrums! We are joined by Mae Linh Fatum and Alexis George to play an epic game of Fiasco set in the world of Harry Dresden. We also bring in Keith Justice Heyward of Henshin Justice Unlimited to review the newest Kamen Rider - Kamen Rider Wizard, and we talk to Leia Calderon-Rox of IHOGeek to review the new Disney video game film Wreck-it-Ralph! It's so big, we had to break it into two parts! Enjoy!

Episode 50: Part 2!

Episode 50: Six inches of - no, I'm not calling it that. Part 1

Picture The 50th Episode of the Ace of Geeks Podcast is live! My god! Nearly three and a half hours of content to fill your eardrums! We are joined by Mae Linh Fatum and Alexis George to play an epic game of Fiasco set in the world of Harry Dresden. We also bring in Keith Justice Heyward of Henshin Justice Unlimited to review the newest Kamen Rider - Kamen Rider Wizard, and we talk to Leia Calderon-Rox of IHOGeek to review the new Disney video game film Wreck-it-Ralph! It's so big, we had to break it into two parts! Enjoy! Here's part one!

Episode 50: Part 1!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Special Episode 3: Emergency Session!

Yesterday, the internet was turned on its ear by some shocking news: Disney had bought Lucasfilm for four billion dollars, gaining the rights to Star Wars and announcing the newest Star Wars film, Episode Seven, would be released in 2015. We're about to record our fiftieth episode, but this kind of news couldn't wait. Therefore The Ace of Geeks Podcast called an Emergency Session, and here it is! We discuss why you shouldn't be worried about this news - and why you maybe should.

Special Episode 3!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Special Episode 2!

In another tie-you-over-until-the-50th-episode installment, Mike and Jarys dive into some book reviews! First, we review Red Seas Under Red Skies, a heist/pirate book, and the second book in the Gentlemen Bastards series. Then, we review The Long Earth, a new science fiction book by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.

Special Episode 2!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Special Episode 1!

The Ace of Geeks Podcast is back!'s taking us a bit to organize the 50th Episode. We're sorry. But in the meantime, here's some nuggets of content for you! Welcome to Special Episode 1, in which Mike and Jarys unbox the new Star Wars X-wing board game! More of these to come!

Special Episode 1!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BONUS Ace of Live Events: Batman Live!

When I was a kid, I remember the idea of the arena show. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the Power Rangers, or any one of the hundreds of amazing kids shows that blew up during the nineties would inevitably have a stage show that toured the country, where kids got to see their heroes up close and personal - or at least as up close and personal as you can in a 60,000 seat arena. I always loved the concept. Anything you can do to bring something that kids love closer to reality in their eyes, so they can say "I met Michelangelo!" to the envy of all of their friends, is a win in my books. And as a kid, I always begged my parents to pay the exorbitant prices to go to one of these things, alas, to no avail.

So, imagine my inner-child's excitement when I first heard about Batman Live.

It didn't actually go like this, but let's pretend it did.
Batman Live is a touring arena show produced by DC Comics and Warner Bros, and produced by a whole host of people who have a lot of experience creating touring shows. One of the guys behind it is, according to their website, responsible for the touring production of Mama Mia that your mothers all went to see. With a script written by DC Comics writer Allan Heinberg, a Batmobile designed by Formula One racing designer Dr. Gordon Murray, and Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's stamps of approval, the show HAD to be fantastic, right?


Let's start with a simple breakdown of what Batman Live is and what it isn't. The show follows the well known but seldom told story of Dick Grayson becoming Robin for the first time. Because of that plotline, the show is a mixture of traditional Batman storytelling and Cirque Du Soleil style arena-circus acrobatics.  For something like Batman, that should work very well. Unfortunately, instead of the perfect marriage that brings the story to new heights, we get a very well told Batman story, and a very sub par circus.

A lot of credit needs to go to Allan Heinberg and the cast of performers that brings the story piece of the show to life. The characterization for every one of the iconic members of the Bat Family and Rogues Gallery is spot on. Harley Quinn and the Joker do their best to ape their animated series counterparts, and it thankfully works brilliantly. Alfred has a dry wit that is actually laugh out loud funny, Dick is wide eyed and full of wonder, and Catwoman slinks about the stage purrrfectly.

I can't resist puns. I'm so sorry.
From a design standpoint, the show is ingenius. The set consists of several smaller pieces that can be disguised as rooftops, tables, or circus props, and a giant bat symbol shaped screen. The combination of the two leads to a very immersive experience, where a minimalist set is combined with a three dimensional backdrop to give the impression of any space the production needs. The costumes are based on Jim Lee's designs from his popular run on Hush, and they translate very well to the stage, save one or two examples.

These are not those costumes. Silly Google Image Search.

With the incredible set and costume design, and the great script, you have a top notch Batman stage play. Hell, I would have paid just to watch these characters talk to each other for two hours. But, this is a Batman show, and that means we've got to get to the action eventually. The show has four or five huge action sequences in it, all involving the circus performers getting to show off their skills. Add that to the Flying Graysons showing off their trapeze artistry and the Penguin's personal aerialist entertaining the villains in the Iceberg Lounge, and you have a lot of time in the show where the acrobats get to take center stage.

I only wish they were worthy of it. I admit, I've probably been spoiled a little bit by the Cirque du Soleil shows that I've seen. Living this close to Las Vegas means I can get down there and see a high quality circus show for cheap pretty much whenever I want, and those performances are in a permanent space, not a tour. But as I watched the aerialist wrap herself up with her hands while the Penguin desperately tried to distract us so she could do the big fall that comes at the end of every one of those routines, I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed. I've seen aerialists in Ren Faires and small restaurant performances who've done far more impressive routines with far less resources and far smaller audiences. The same rang true for the trapeze artists and the stage acrobats.

The costume designs aren't helping the action either. Based on designs by Jim Lee, the suits for the villains and regular cast members are spot on and beautiful. Unfortunately, someone decided to take poor Batman and Robin and put them into Joel Schumaker level "can't raise your arms" armored suits.

Bruce...I can't move.
This leads to awkward fight sequences where Batman flails wildly at nothing while acrobats do backflips around him. It makes the Caped Crusader look awkward and uncoordinated. I understand the need for a cool looking Batsuit, and aping Jim Lee's designs so closely is a cool idea, but I would think a troupe of circus performers with a resident fight choreographer could come up with something a tiny bit more manueverable.

I would be remiss, too, if I didn't mention the brief show stoppage for technical difficulties as the Batmobile came out for the first time, but honestly, at this point that feels like nitpicking.

All of that said, even with sub-par circus acts, technical difficulties that stopped the show, and bulky suits, this was still a live Batman show, and you couldn't have knocked the smile off my face with a thousand hammers. That smile only widened as the show went on, because even though my spoiled adult self saw all the problems with Batman Live, the eight year olds all around me ate up every word and every minute. The point of an arena show, to me, is to keep the magic alive - to take the fantasy world that our children love and make it just a little more real to them. And in that, Batman Live succeeded on all counts. I wouldn't recommend going in expecting something life changing, but for your inner eight year old still clutching his Batman: The Animated Series DVDs, you can't go wrong.

Batman Live is currently touring the country. Get showtimes and tickets at 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Episode 49: Angel Wizard Style!

Picture The Ace of Geeks delves into the world of the supernatural, and the super-manly this week! First, we fill you in on all the latest news to come out of Marvel's television and film efforts. Then we give you the run down on The Dresden Files in a new Essential Briefings, and Jarys goes nuts about Slenderman. Finally, we enter the Man Cave to review The Expendables 2, and we give out an all new, all different Ace of Geeks!

Episode 49!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Episode 48: The Secret World of Mass Effect!

The Ace of Geeks Podcast is back! Jarys and Mike return after a long vacation brought on by Jarys going on a trip and Mike having too much damn work to edit this podcast. :) IN THIS EPISODE! We give our impressions on The Secret World! We review Mass Effect 3! We answer two, count them, TWO fan letters! All this and more!

Episode 48!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Episode 47: We Went to Comic-con!

Mike and Mae Linh have returned from the ultimate, greatest of conventions, San Diego Comic-con! They'll regail you with stories, while Jarys cries in a corner. ALSO ON THIS PODCAST! We hand out a political Deuce of Geeks, discuss internet witchhunts, and review The Dark Knight Rises and Ready Player One!

Episode 47!

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Ballad of Team Lazy But Talented

One of the great things about San Diego Comic Con is how much there is to do. One minute you're checking out fantastic art on the floor, the next, you're hearing about all the new story lines in one of your favorite comic books. As the con encompasses more and more of geek culture, there's even opportunities to try out the latest video games. And so, when Mae Linh and I wandered into the non-descript white tent outside the San Diego Hilton Bayfront, we got to enter an epic story of hope, loss, and near-rage quitting. This is the Ballad of Team Lazy But Talented. Inside the air-conditioned tent, ten chairs were set up facing each other, five versus five. Each had their own monitor, and a giant screen loomed over them, flipping from screen to screen, showing a blinding display of fast paced action. The walls were covered with stylized depictions of Legolas, Gandalf, The Witch King, and even Gollum looking ready to kick ass. Two announcers sat in front of the screen, giving our commentary and advice to the teams. As we walked in, the tiny blond girl in the pink shirt told us we were looking at a new game called Guardians of Middle Earth. Did we want to play? Guardians of Middle Earth, it turns out, is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA. Started by Defense of the Ancients and recently popularized by League of Legends, MOBAs are a relatively new type of strategy game. Players take the role of a powerful hero, commanding legions of minions in an attempt to destroy the enemy's base. There are three paths on every map, each guarded by multiple defensive towers. We watched the gameplay on the screen as we lined up to play, and I tried to impart what little knowledge I had on to my wife. "Don't chase the enemy," I would say. "If they run away it's always a trap. "Let the minions take the damage from the towers, they'll kill you in seconds." "Never take on another Guardian one on one unless you have minions or a tower." I'm not an expert, but neither was anyone else there. After a brief wait, we found ourselves paired up with three guys our own age. We were randomly assigned to Team Good, and we sat down at the computers reserved for Legolas (myself) and Gandalf (Mae Linh). We barely had time to say hello to the rest of the team before the announcers called out that the match was beginning. I'm an aggressive dude when I play video games, so Legolas charged down the bottom path. I found my minions, and started leading them up the path. Then, I glanced at the mini-map, and my heart sank. Gandalf was all alone on the top path. Advancing on him was Urglauk (an Uruk-Hai), The Witch King, and Sauron himself. I've spent the last eight years helping my beautiful wife move from the eight-bit games of her childhood to the modern games of today. MOBAs are not a walk in the park. They're tough, strategy intensive games that frustrate the most hardcore gamer. I'd just thrown her into the lion's den, and she was about to be eaten. I rushed north toward the top lane watching the game's updates in horror. Soon, it would tell me of the triple team kill, and my wife would be crushed. The updates began. "Gandalf has killed Urglauk." "Gandalf has killed The Witch King." "Gandalf has killed Sauron." The room erupted. She was a natural. I dropped my controlled and jumped up and cheered. Then Gollum attacked, and I dove back into the game. The rest of the game went as well as could be expected. We assaulted the enemy's towers, drove them back to their base, and laid waste to their home. Team Good was victorious. We exited the stage, exhilarated. We were good at this. I had plans to head back to the main hall for my interview with the Power Rangers, but the rest of our team stopped us. There was a tournament later. They had signed up, and wanted to know if we would fill out their team. We were flattered. People thought we were good enough to be on their team. We happily accepted, and Team Lazy But Talented was born. I have no idea where the name came from, it was on the scoreboard when we came back. I ran to my interview and back, just in time. The first game was intense, a nail biter that went to more than six hundred points on each side. We were randomly flailing, but we held them at a strong tie in points. For every one of us they killed, we killed one of them. For every tower they dropped, we dropped one of theirs. Then, everything changed. They got a two tower (no pun intended) lead on us. Things looked grim. They were advancing towards our base in numbers. As Gandalf, Galadriel and our tricksy Hobbit defended our base with their lives, the Dwarf and I had the same idea. I pushed up the top lane, and he pushed down the bottom, resistance free. We dropped two towers in seconds, and then I blew up a minion spawner, giving us a commanding lead. As the last thirty seconds ticked down, they chose to waste it running home to stop us. Game over, victory for Team Lazy But Talented. We watched the other qualifying match with interest, and developed our tactics. We would spend the beginning of the game leveling our characters by killing minions, and then Gandalf and Legolas would play defense while the rest of the team pushed forward. The plan was set, and we put it into action. As defenders, we were like a subtle knife. We darted in and out of cover, escaping at the right time and luring our opponents into traps. Legolas racked up twelve kills, and the other team fell before us in minutes. The semi-finals are over, and we were in the finals. Other than us, no other team had a name. They were all "Team F" or "Team B", random teams throw together by fate. Our final opponents, however, had a name. They were team Noble Press. I should have seen the signs. We sat down for the finals, and decided to run the same strategy. We would be the Knife, cutting our enemies like butter. If we were the Knife, Team Noble Press was the Hammer. In the early going, everything was quiet. I captured a shrine with no resistance, giving our party a great defense buff. And then, it happened. Gollum ran out of a bush, saw me and took off. I gave chase. The entire enemy team calmly stepped out of the trees and murdered me. I heard swears on all sides as they picked us off, one by one. They didn't care about the towers, they just wanted our blood. Five minutes in, they were level 10, just from the XP they got from picking us off. The announcers, normally so full of advice, began to talk about the game as if it were over. Noble Press waited until they were far too powerful to stop, then took a stroll into our base and finished the job. They were class acts, of course. They shook our hands, told us we made a good effort, and then went and took their prizes. I asked them if they'd played together before. "Oh yeah, we play Dota together sometimes," they said. And with that, the Cinderella story of Team Lazy But Talented was over. We shook hands with our teammates and parted ways, most likely to never see each other again. The dream was over. It turns out, we may not be MOBA wunderkinds. If a team that plays "sometimes" could massacre us that easily, maybe we had just gotten lucky. But that moment in the sun, that time of almost winning an honest to god gaming tournament, that will stay with us forever. Team Lazy But Talented will live on in our hearts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Episode 46: With Great Power Comes CROTCH!

Our 46th podcast is as full of great content as a web shooter is full of web-fluid, true believers. HEAR Jarys fail to surprise Mike with Assassin's Creed news. LISTEN to Mae Linh explain the Higgs- Boson. PERCEIVE two fascinating reviews of Death Drip and  The Amazing Spider-Man. HEARKEN to our super star Ace of Geeks of the Week. 
Also, check out our twitter feed this week for live updates from Comic con.

Episode 46: With Great Power Comes CROTCH!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Episode 45: Breaking Hotwheels News!

Picture The Ace of Geeks comes back this week with news and reviews! First, we discuss Once Upon a Time, Mass Effect 3, Terry Pratchett's new novel The Long Earth, and the Finale of The Legend of Korra. Then we jump straight into some reviews of Brave and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter! PLUS - for the first time ever, the podcast is interrupted with honest to god, breaking news!

Episode 45!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Episode 44: Caught in a Death Grip!

Picture The Ace of Geeks welcome former Power Ranger, voice of Vash the Stampede, and voice of Nero from Devil May Cry 4 Johnny Yong Bosch, and former Ace of Geeks award winner and head of the Stunt People Eric Jacobus to the show! They're here to talk about their new film, Death Grip, which premieres June 30th! In addition, we'll talk about the new books Hex Appeal and Ready Player One, help Eastern European Terrorists with their plans to kill Liam Neeson, and review both Snow White and the Huntsman AND Prometheus! It's an action packed podcast from beginning to end!

Episode 44!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Episode 43: Acetronic Geekertainment Expo!

The Ace of Geeks Podcast is back this week, with a report from Mike's recent trip to the Electronic Entertainment Expo in LA! We'll discuss the games he saw, the games they wouldn't let him see, and what you can expect in the coming year of gaming. PLUS! A new "If I Had a Hammer", as Jarys attempts the herculean effort of simply installing Mass Effect 3 on PC. ALSO! The double announcement of major gay character milestones in Marvel and DC comics is announced! IN ADDITION! I learn to use hyperbole, capslock and exclamation points while writing this description!

Episode 43!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Episode 42: Kublacon 2012

We are glad to be back from our Kublacon-induced hiatus. We present, for your enjoyment, the finest artisan crafted episode, where we get together with multiple Con buddies. SPOILER ALERT - We have been asked by the Storytellers of the 1001 Arabian Nights LARP to label our spoilers, as they will be running their fantastic game again at Dundracon. Those spoilers are at 0.33.00-0.44.30 and at 0.52.00-0.53.30, and finally at 1.24.00-1.28.00. Enjoy!

Episode 42: Kublacon 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Episode 41: Benders! Assemble!

Picture Mike and Jarys are joined, once again, by Kyle Johanessen, and we're delving into some big reviews this week! The Legend of Korra AND the Avengers! Plus, we argue whether you can define a story by rules, we delve into the world of Black Ops 2, and discuss the news of the Elder Scrolls Online.

Episode 41!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reviewing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter AND what do vampires mean

Hello fellow geeks and nerds, Jarys here.
I just finished a very interesting book, by the name of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Go back and reread that title for me, please, I want to make sure your mind has every possible opportunity to drudge up presupposed ideas of the book. You may think the author brought forth a trashy and over dramatic pulp action novel, in which the 16th president takes every impossible leap of logic and character development to become a totally awesome vampire hunter. You’d be wrong, though I would not blame you for thinking thus.
The author, who also wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, takes care to research Lincoln’s life through various quotes and biographies. I found the added story to be neatly woven among historical fact, much of which I was amused to remember from High School and college. Lincoln’s morose character and lively wit shine through. His famed success in street brawling, interstate career changes, and thoughts on slavery are all used to support a “Secret vampire hunting career”.       
In fact, the relationship between slavery and vampirism is one of the key elements of the story. Without giving too much away, Abe learns of this relationship the same day he famously saw his first slave auction in New Orleans, allowing the emotional impact of one (upon his collected quotes and correspondences) to make real the other. The creepy idolization of the Vampiric condition (by which immortality, murder, and hedonism is romanticized) becomes a metaphor for the horrifying dehumanization of the institution of slavery (in which people are bought and kept as property, sexually objectified, and their dignity ignored). The excesses and aristocracy of the Antebellum South have often been a favorite setting for American Vampire stories; this book seeks to explain this within such a world through cultural and political rhetoric that I found very well thought out. Abraham’s perspective as a non vocal abolitionist is used to explore the Vampiric myth which does quite well as a metaphor.
I have long thought about the symbolism that I take from vampire stories, why I find them fascinating, though am typically disgusted by the vampiric condition. To me vampires are an easy metaphor for the aristocracy and the fear they engender in lower classes. Like aristocrats, vampires are obsessed with their bloodlines, and wield economic and social advantage, having increased these over a long period of time. Anti aristocratic rhetoric depicts them as parasites, living off of the work of others, just as vampires live off of the blood of others. Not only are many of the most famous vampiric characters aristocrats, but most vampires have a cultured sense of “cool”, and are often written to draw victims in by their glamorous lifestyle. Vampires wield incredible martial power, like the aristocrats of old, and can bring death and destruction down on lesser mortals. They are the essence of the elite, and the loss of empathy through power.
          It is idealistically believed that class has no place in American society, but never was this less true than the Antebellum South. Affluent salve owning families lived off of large parcels of land, amassing wealth that established dynasties, many of which are still important in Southern high society today. One’s family heritage was very important to rich Southerners, as we can see in the writing of Mark Twain. Without having to work, slave owners hosted balls, warred with one another, and generally lived a life of relaxation. These Aristocratic themes been tied to vampirism since at least the writing of Ann Rice.
          While I amuse myself by pretending to write a paper on these themes, I won’t have readers leave with the idea that the book is purely intellectual. There are a number of excellent fight scenes, emotional moments in which the losses of Lincoln’s life are depicted as the consequence of his hunting, and incredibly witty lines (many of which Lincoln actually said).
          I highly recommend this book to the armchair historian, conspiracy theorist, or vampire fan.  I ate it up in record time. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What DOES the Avengers mean for us?

Folks, two things first and foremost.
1) This blog post is written by me, Mike Fatum, one half of the Ace of Geeks. I got no idea how Jarys feels about it, so we'll wait and see what he says.
2) This article is entirely a response to the following article:

The Fanboy Next Door - We Just Might Have to Avenge Something

It's a great article, written by a good friend of mine, who is most well known for getting a Power Sword for free for looking like a ten year old kid. (Last one, I swear, Eric! :) ) It concerns the mainstream success of the Avengers, and what it means for all of us now that not one but two of our babies, Batman and the Avengers, are billion dollar hits. You should read it, and then come back.

The main point of Eric's article is that we all could stand to broaden our horizons and watch or read some things we don't normally consume. I absolutely agree with that. You should all check out comic books like The Dapper Men and Fables that aren't necessarily published by the big two, and make sure you watch films like Death Grip that wouldn't see in any major cinema. However, the reason Eric says this is because geek culture has gotten "too big" or "too mainstream", and that's something I'm going to have to take issue with.

One billion dollars. That's insane. That's an amount of money that, most likely, none of us will ever see. And yet, two movies in the last ten years have pulled in that kind of money. Both of them were superhero films. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, and now Joss Whedon's Avengers. When we were kids, the idea that there would even be an Avengers movie, much less one that other people would actually go out and see was a pipe dream. The closest we would ever get would be something like this:


Then Blade came along and changed everything. Suddenly a superhero movie based on a comic book could not only be fun to watch, but be commercially successful, too. That led to X-men, Spider-man, and even reboots of previously successful series like Superman and Batman. Five years ago, as I'm sure you know, Marvel began to put out their own line of films, starting with Iron Man, and leading up to the incredible Avengers that we all saw last week. (And the movie that we'll be reviewing on the podcast this week!)

It's clear, in this new world, that being a geek or a nerd means something different. Our heroes are on the big screen, making tons of money. Regular magazines like Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times review comic books and video games. Comic-con and PAX sell out so fast that you have to have the reflexes of a Call of Duty player to get tickets. It's no longer necessary to hide in the shadows, you can be a geek and be big and loud and proud and everyone will accept you. Right?

That's the point that Eric, and a lot of geeks like Patton Oswalt, in his famous "It's time for Geek Culture to die" article, are making. Now that we're out there, now that we're mainstream, the culture has moved away from its roots. To be a geek, they say, you must be an outcast, an outsider. You must like things that nobody else likes, and you probably were punished for it. It's like when an indie band "sells out" and gets that major recording contract - you know it's never going to be the same now that the guy who beat you up in high school likes The Cure.  Is it the same now that the Prom Queen is talking about how haaawt Chris Hemsworth is as Thor?


I saw Chris Hardwick doing standup last year, and at one point he went on a mini-rant about seeing a hipster kid wearing an Atari t-shirt. The kid may have never played an Atari, but he was wearing a geek culture icon proudly on the street. After recounting his own experiences being tortured in high school, Hardwick hypothetically shouted at the kid "I suffered so you could be free!" And it's true. They did. We did. We endured years of hardship to make it to the point of acceptance. Eric and I both know very well how hard it was to be a grown man who still watched the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. But doesn't that make it worthwhile?

When I first found Wondercon, the geek convention that up until this year was in San Francisco, the moment I walked in the door I felt like I was at home. I was surrounded by a thousand people who all understood and loved the same things I did. I didn't have to endure blank looks as I tried to explain the history of the X-men, because people around me were dressed as the X-men. For the first time in my life, I was home. I've found other homes since then, like Dundracon and Kublacon, and like Power Morphicon where I first met Eric. In those places, geekdom is absolutely one hundred percent mainstream.

When I was that kid being taunted and tortured, all I ever wanted was to feel like I belonged. And I, personally, don't care how many other people belong in my geek family. The more the merrier. Because if all the crap I went through, if all the times that I was an outsider means that we were merely biding our time so that my friends kids, and my kids, don't have to go through that, then I would endure middle school a hundred more times. The fact that geek culture has gone mainstream doesn't just mean that some douchebags are going to see the Avengers. It also means that some little kid in Poughkeepsie is going to see the Avengers on opening night. And he might see someone carrying Captain America's shield, and they might tell him they got it at the local comic book store. And that little kid, who's spent most of his young years feeling alone and an outsider, will walk into that store and know he has a place to belong. That's important, and far more important than our things being special.

Aaaand there's the kid now.

But there's another part to this, too. It's routinely accepted among the circles that believe geek culture needs to stop being mainstream that it's already consumed every part of life. That we find ourselves in a culture where being a geek will always be accepted. To that, I submit a small story:

About a week after I started working at the frame store, another store manager came in to check on us. I mentioned that I was tired because I'd been up until two in the morning. He asked what I'd been doing. I said, "Oh, nothing too abnormal. Just playing Dungeons and Dragons." Que the entire store laughing at me. Immediately afterwards, the manager shared a story about how he'd gone out to a club, gotten so drunk he passed out, and woken up in someone else's house. That was normal, I was a weirdo.

We haven't won yet. The battle isn't over, and people out there will still look at those of us who love geeky things as freaks and oddballs. So I say, bring on that mainstream acceptance. Bring on Comic-con, and billion dollar movies. Because we could use a little more love, and we all need a place to belong.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spoiler Alert: Cabin in the Woods!

Picture Our first episode of Spoiler Alert, our new segment in which we discuss things you should see before you hear us talk about them. Cabin in the Woods is one such thing. Go see it right now, THEN listen to this excellent discussion featuring Kyle Johanesson.

Spoiler Alert: Cabin in the Woods!

Episode 40: Wind Tunnel

Picture The Ace of Geeks welcome new guest host Kyle Johanessen as we delve into the deep, dark world of Stuff We Got in the Mail!! We answer another letter about The Hunger Games, plus all the nerd news that's fit to print. In the darkness, the masses cry out, for Kyle to get a better microphone! Keep an eye out just below for the first episode of Spoiler Alert - our new shorter segment where we discuss movies/books/whatever that we think you should see before we talk about them.

Episode 40!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Read and Discuss! from a fan.

Hello Nerds and Geeks!
We received a short story from a fan, who wanted to open up a discussion on story arcs. She gave us permission to post her story on our site, so that fans will have some foreknowledge when we discuss it on the podcast next week.

Please enjoy:
Behind the Scenes [by Erin Sterling]

They don’t tell stories about middle brothers. We’re just not as important as the rest of you. It’s almost become a cliché that middle brothers don’t get as good a deal as the oldest or the youngest, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And the worst part? The worst part is that we’re the same. Three. Brothers. Every time. Every story. It’s always us.
We don’t have names, you know. Not really. Sometimes some enterprising storyteller will try to tack an identifier onto each of us as a way to differentiate themselves from the myriad storytellers before them, but it makes no real difference. We are 1, 2, and 3; a, b, and c… even just John, John, and John. John is brash, reckless, and prideful as only eldest brothers can be. John is caring, competent, and clever, as youngest brothers must be. And me? Well, I’m just John. In the stories I’m prideful or dutiful or just silly, following my older brother’s example even though it is sure to lead to my doom.
Out here, though, I’m different. I’m not entirely sure why – after all, no character can escape the classification of their type. Perhaps it’s the swirling uncertainty that surrounds me – I was never fully formed through stories, and the uncertainty that surrounds who I am has allowed me to have some measure of control in shaping myself. For whatever the reason, I have found that I am more aware of our nature than either of my brothers, and certainly more than any princesses or kings that we’ve found. Jack understands, but then… he’s Jack. Everything to everyone, and nothing to himself. He sees the curtain, and knows what it’s like here, backstage.
        Sometimes there is a spark. Some new storyteller will take up the words and weave them anew, pushing us and shaping us into something that is more complex, more solid, more real than our usual ghosts of characterization. When that happens, I can see the others awaken. The realities of our existence come crashing in on them, and then a choice is made. The outcome is invariably the same.
So here we are, your puppets of legend, dancing on a stage of imagination just for you. Between the pages, during the pause, we wait for our next appearance, knowing that it will ever be the same as the last. Sometimes I wonder if we make the right choice, selecting the mundanity of a repeat performance over the unknown of unbeing. But, after all, it’s all we are, and all we can be. Treat us well, storyteller. Our lives are in your hands.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Episode 39: X+92=Geek

Picture This week, the Ace of Geeks takes on a very special topic: Teaching Jarys how to podcast. We'll also discuss the negative teachings of the sinister How to Train Your Dragon, dive into an email that opens up the book on privacy, and give you a review of Wiz-War, the new board game from Fantasy Flight. All this while waving our hands around like we just don't care!

Episode 39!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Episode 38: Official Fanfiction

Picture This week, the Ace of Geeks Podcast is brought to you by the magic of internet phone! Jarys calls in to the official headquarters from (shudder) Southern California, to discuss IHOGeek's campaign to crown a Maxim Gamer Girl, Drow and their brokenness, killing yourself from the future, and watching TV shows whenever you want! Plus, a review of the new Dungeons and Dragons board game, Lords of Waterdeep.

Episode 38!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bonus ACE OF MOVIES: Lockout!

(Quick note: When I wrote this review I had just finished watching two episodes of Downton Abbey. I'm afraid to say I can't stop thinking like a pretentious early century British person, and that might be a smidge reflected in this review. Wot wot. Bloody hell.)

They say, in life, the only certain things are death and taxes. In cinema, there are a few more. You know, when stepping into a movie theater, that you can count on certain things. James Cameron will give you a film of an epic scope, Robert Rodriguez will make you laugh and cheer, Tarantino will confuse and astound you, and Speilberg will break and heal your heart. But there's one more name I, personally, add to the pot, and that is Luc Besson. Besson is best known for being the director of 80s and 90s films like The Professional and La Femme Nikita. In the last few years, he's brought out a string of proteges and produced a series of mid-budget, european flavored action films like From Paris with Love, the Transporter, District B13 and Taken. Some of them, particularly Taken, have been successful at breaking in to the mainstream consciousness. Others, like B13 and From Paris with Love, have been a lot of fun to watch but not garnered a lot of attention. All of them, however, have been consistently high quality, enjoyable, popcorn action movies that give you exactly what you want when you step into the theater - a two hour escape into a simpler world.

So, is it any surprise that Lockout is no different?

Anyone who viewed the trailers for this film knows the plot from beginning to end, but I'll give you a short summary anyway: Escape from New York in space.

Ok, here's a longer one. Snow, a secret agent in the near-ish future, is caught by his own people and accused of a crime he didn't commit. At the same time, Emilie, the daughter of the President of the United States, is up in space, touring a new prison facility that houses convicts, Alien style. To avoid all of the problems that comes with keeping a prison population under control, they deep freeze all the convicts and call it a day. Snow is about to be sent to this same prison for his own crime, when a single prisoner escapes, kills the guards and releases all five hundred prisoners. Because a tactical assault will surely lead to the death of his daughter, the President authorizes a rescue mission by a single man, who of course is Snow.

 In the hands of anyone else, this is the plot of a straight to DVD movie. In the hands of Luc Besson's team, it's thankfully a little bit more.

Snow is played by Guy Pearce, who most of you out there will know from Memento. He has a long pedigree of playing serious, dramatic roles in independent film, so it had to have been nice to get the chance to play a smarmy anti-hero. Snow is all sarcasm and guns, with only the tiniest hints of character to back him up. Again, this is the sort of thing that, if I were reviewing a different kind of movie, would be a negative. But here it's a positive, and Pearce's portrayal of Snow is a joy to watch as he wisecracks and shoots his way through the orbital space station. There's always a joy to see an actor who's been cast in the same role over and over get the chance to stretch his range, and while it isn't quite as wonderful to watch as, say, Karl Urban in Star Trek, it's still a great surprise.
Even with a strong leading man, though, an action movie lives or dies on chemistry. A weak link in a female lead can send the entire film crashing to earth - just watch Jason Statham trying to play off his costar in Transporter 3 for proof. Thankfully Maggie Grace, pictured here because, well, I can, is up to the task of playing off of Pierce. The moments of the film where they're apart are dull and lifeless, and the moments they are together are full of the sort of zing and interest that sold action movies before they became about blank-faced marines fighting alien robots. The dialogue isn't the most brilliant in the world, but Pearce and Grace make it shine, and play off each other with wonderful timing.

The sets are beautifully designed, the world is fully realized, the acting is at least good across the board - but of course, it's not a perfect movie. There are plot holes you can drive a truck through. A particular CG sequence early on in the film has the sort of texturing I'd expect to see from Pixar fifteen years ago. And the final stunt sequence is so unbelievable that I, Mr. Suspension of Disbelief, laughed out loud. But that doesn't change the fact that there will come a Saturday afternoon, soon, where you are bored, and feeling listless. Where you just want to pack up your cares, drive to the movies, and get taken away for a while. And nobody does it better than the people Luc Besson gets together.

Go spend the $10 and see it. You'll thank me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bonus ACE OF VIDEO GAMES: Journey!

I sat down to begin this review a few different times, each time coming up with a blank. I've never had a harder time describing what a video game is than with Journey. There's the simple description - Journey is a game about controlling a red robed creature as they quest towards a bright light in a distant mountain. But to describe this game as just that simple narrative belies the incredible depth That Game Company has managed to put together into one of the most interesting and beautiful games I've ever played.

That Game Company's previous work was another Playstation Network downloadable title, Flower. That game became something of a sleeper hit due to its incredible ability to relax the player. Journey is no different. The first word that comes to mind when playing it is "zen." The title of the game, I imagine, comes from the old saying, "It's not the destination, it is the journey." The end of this game, I can say without giving too many spoilers, is not the goal at all. It is the joy of discovery, and the beauty of the landscape you find yourself in, that gives the game its particular magic.

A single playthrough of Journey can be done in less than two hours. Your red-robed hero will make it to the mountaintop with a minimum of fuss or frustration. Any small puzzle work you find is quickly solved, and you will never find yourself standing back to scratch your head or check Gamefaqs. It is not, by typical modern standards, a difficult game. And unlike modern games, Journey never holds your hand or points you in the right direction. Beyond a very small button tutorial early on, you are never told what to do or where to go. Every problem placed in front of you can be solved with one of the three tools available to you. That journey, discovering what each tool does and how and where to use it, it one of the best experiences I've had in video games. It hearkens back to the days of the Super Nintendo, where finding a problem's solution meant learning the tools and discovering the answer, not waiting for a button prompt to point you in the direction the developers meant you to go.

In many ways, the game is reminiscent of the end of the first Portal. The discovery that a previously closed world was now open to you, and it was up to you to discover what to do was a magical experience in gaming. Journey gives you that experience of discovery from the moment you press start.

If it seems like this review is vague, that's a smidge intentional. The ability to discover what the world has to offer, and how you might explore it, is such a wonderful experience that I hestitate to mention any aspect of the gameplay. But I will point out one feature of the game - the multiplayer. Early on in the game, I came across another red robed creature, exactly like mine. As I walked near it, it sang to me, and then moved away. I followed, and the creature led to me one of the game's secrets, hidden away near by. Then the creature stayed with me, helping me through puzzles and to dodge enemies. I lost them soon after, but I found another. It was only when the game ended that the credits revealed that I had found other PSN users, playing the same game. When you run into a new player, there is no way to communicate other than the limited gameplay mechanics, and no need to do anything but ignore one another. What this creates, strangely, is the compulsion to help. You can reach the end by yourself, and even discover all the secrets alone. But this lonely, beautiful world causes players to want to stick together, to guide each other to new places and new discoveries. It's an experience unlike any other multiplayer I've ever seen. Cooperation is never suggested or encouraged, and somehow that makes it all the more desireable.

Fourteen dollars for a two hour game seems insanely steep. I scoffed at it even as I bought the game. But I cannot recommend the world of Journey highly enough. I wanted to replay my quest for the mountain and the light as soon as I finished playing it, and I know you will, too.

Journey is available as a download on the Playstation Network, for 14.99.

Episode 37: Teenage Mutant NINJA Geeks!

Picture In this week's episode, the Ace of Geeks Podcast takes on Michael Bay, making us just as mad as everyone else on the internet! Plus, we discuss the finer points of running a table top game, whether R.A. Salvatore can write tragedy, the Hunger Games vs Battle Royale, and many other things that are good! Good things! Listen!

Episode 37!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Episode 36 - The Geekerina of Time!

Mike and Jarys welcome another in our long line of awesome guest hosts, Beth Fatum! She may be shy, but when she does talk, she says words! We also review two of our favorite movies from this year, Chronicle and John Carter, and delve into the past of video games in a new Nerdstalgia! Plus, the longest email we've EVER recieved! All this and more in Episode 36!

Episode 36!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Episode 35 - Nerd News Nupdate

Picture In this episode, the Geeks are joined by Thomas Tan, actor and stuntman at large, who fills us in on the new game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. We discuss Alan Moore NOT being nuts, and give an ace of geeks award to someone JUST for using Twitter!

Episode 35!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Episode 34 - Dundracon 2: The Dundraning!

The Ace of Geeks returns to Dundracon for the second year in a row, to talk the con, gaming, and sperm! You heard me! We're joined once again by Cameron Mitchell, Mae Linh Fatum, and the fine folks at Gamer Geekus. Come see if podcasting at 2 in the morning makes us more or less funny!

Episode 34!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Episode 33 - It's Dot COM!

Today! On the Ace of Geeks Podcast!
We once again welcome guest host Cameron Mitchell, who makes us feel old. We respond by making HIM feel young! Take THAT!
Also, we discuss the fall of, The Old Republic, and Alan Moore, and we answer fan mail from...Cameron Mitchell? What kind of crazy, timeline altering mischief is this?

Episode 33!

Episode 32 - Philosiphicizing!

In our thirty second podcast, we invite Abby and Mark Stone to ponder the myriad mysteries of the multiverse. We hope you like our delightfully dapper theme song. We sure do.

Episode 32!

Episode 31!

Picture This week on the show, Jarys and Mike discuss SOPA and PIPA - which were both shot down in between the time the podcast was recorded and the time it was put up. Hooray! We also give a rousing Nerdstalgia to Calvin and Hobbes, and give maybe the most unexpected Ace of Geeks Award of all time.

Episode 31!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Episode 30 - Ace of Geeks, Version 3.0

Welcome to another edition of the Ace of Geeks Podcast! This week, we review The Adventures of Tintin and Cards Against Humanity, we discuss the announcement of D&D 5th Ed and what it does and doesn't mean, answer a long overdue fan question, and hand out the second ever Bob Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award to someone who isn't dead!

Episode 30!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Episode 29 - Fus Ro Bob!

Welcome to the first Ace of Geeks Podcast of 2012! In the following podcast, Mike will rage at a fan, Jarys will regale you with...singing...and we review Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Skyrim! Also this week, the first ever Ace of Geeks Lifetime Achievement Award is given to the single most badass man to ever wield a sword - Bob Anderson.

Episode 29!