ladysteam13

ladysteam13

(3 comments, 13 posts)

Dina, known is some circles as Lady Steam, is a geek by birth and always been obsessed with TV, movies and pop culture. Her current obsessions include Doctor Who, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones (I’m still cursing Joffrey). Cosplaying queen, her focus is mainly on the Steampunk genre, although you’ll catch her dressing up as the TARDIS, Robin or Captain Mal Reynolds from time to time. A founding member of the League of Extraordinary Ladies, she is also an active contributor on thelxl.com and loves meeting and hearing from other geek gals.

Email Address: ladysteam@thelxl.com
Lady Steam’s Etsy Shop Extraordinaire: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ladysteam13
Twitter Handle: @ladysteam13

Home page: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ladysteam13

Posts by ladysteam13
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An Evening at the 1st Annual Geekie Awards

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This past Sunday, all of Hollywood Geek-Royalty gathered at the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood for the 1st Annual Geekie Awards. The entire event was dreamed up by the ever-talented Kristen Nedopak who was looking for a way to support indie geek art. While many of the smaller awards were announced ahead of time on their website (http://www.thegeekieawards.com/), several of the larger awards were given away in a live ceremony that live-streamed across the world. Plenty of geek celebs were on hand, including Stan Lee himself who received the first ever Geekie Award and serenaded the crowd with a song he wrote about being a geek for life.

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Stan Lee arriving on the red carpet

For those lucky audience members sitting in the tables near the stage, 3D printers were working all night making custom art. I was able to see them printing away all evening and they provided people with a lot of entertainment (except for the “party table” up front who broke theirs early on).

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Mac Beauvais as Ariel and Dina Kampmeyer as Maleficent.

I was privileged enough to be invited to attend as a cosplayer and even got to be onstage in my steampunk Maleficent costume to hand over the award for the Best One Shot category with Chris Gore and Keahu Kahuanui. There were plenty of amazing cosplayers on hand to entertain the crowd, take photos with and add further geek cred to the evening.

"The Record Keeper" creators and star accept the Best One Shot award from MTVGeek.

“The Record Keeper” creators and star accept the Best One Shot award from MTVGeek.

There were plenty of logistical issues throughout the evening, but considering this was a large-scale first year event, things went reasonably smoothly and the crowd seemed to enjoy the evening overall. The biggest gaff of the night came from the young (and very excited) Winner twins while presenting the award for Retail Stores and Websites. The nominee package and category name were skipped entirely, but thankfully the winners from the Nerd Machine stepped in and filled in the blank for the audience.

Seth Green and Clare Grant arrive on the red carpet.

Seth Green and Clare Grant arrive on the red carpet.

The pre-filmed skit that kicked off the evening and the videos preceeding each set of nominees were spectacularly done and added a real professional air to the evening. The inclusion of Best Webseries nominees the League of S.T.E.A.M. throughout the evening was also quite entertaining, especially when they used their famous net get to snag a zombie coming after host Alison Haislip.

Presenters Stephanie Thorpe and Andre Meadows having fun backstage.

Kudos to all involved with the evening and the events leading up to it. I for one will be curious to see how the show evolves in the future and hope that next year’s event will be even better!

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View of the stage from backstage.

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Elfquest’s Wendy Pini and Paula Rhodes.

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Captain America was there to protect us from the paparazzi.

Invasion

WE Comics Review: How I Spent My Summer Invasion & Jimmy Brass, 2nd Grade Detective

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I hope you got a chance to read my interview last week with WE Comics founders, Jason Enright and Mairghread Scott. If not, you can check it here: http://nerdsinbabeland.com/archives/6990. WE has now officially released their first two comics and I had the pleasure of reading both in their digital and print formats. You can purchase both digital downloads for just $1 each at http://wecomics.com.

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How I Spent My Summer Invasion made me almost do a spit-take several times while I was reading it. While obviously written for a young audience, there are some truly hilarious (and aimed at adults) jokes in this charming new comic written by Patrick Rieger and illustrated by Mark Sean Wilson. This adventure follows Tim and Russ, two typically rambunctious young boys who find themselves in a hotel run by and for aliens. The premise is simple, but the fast pacing, easy humor and sweet characters all make for a highly enjoyable read. There is mystery, suspense, a touch of romance and unexpected and clever humor. The animation style is simple, bright and cartoony and serves the story perfectly. I first read the digital version of the comic (which I thoroughly enjoyed), but if you can, you should definitely pick up the printed version as well. The colors are stunning in print and this will be a fun comic to pass onto a young person and might just inspire a new love of comics.

Jimmy Brass, 2nd Grade Detective has a very different feel to it. While Summer Invasion is all gut and heart, Jimmy Brass is all brains. Written by Jake Dickerman and illustrated by Jason Pruett, this comic takes us through a single case of Jimmy Brass who, as you may have guessed by the title, is a detective navigating his way through elementary school. Jimmy is serious, very adult and much like a young Sherlock Holmes, using observation and logic to find the culprits and bring them to justice.  Opal, his kindergarten bodyguard, is an utterly unique character and quite the foil to Jimmy. She is something quite unusual, a female character who craves justice and violence. She protects Jimmy at all times, while finding his constant detective work quite annoying. There are barely any adults present in the story and children play all of the roles in this mystery-thriller, including a pair of monster hunters who reminded me a lot of Mulder and Scully.

The real star of this comic is the artwork. Drawn in stunning black and white, Pruett shows off his tremendous artistic talent and gives the comic a distinct noir feeling. I’m curious as to where this series is leading and I’d love to catch a glimpse of Jimmy’s childlike side in the future.  I’d hate to think his entire life is seeking out monsters and teddy bear murderers, although I know that Opal will protect him through all of that.

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Interview with the creators of WE Comics: Comics for Everyone Else

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After being frustrated for far too long with the comics companies writing to a young, male audience, Jason Enright and Mairghread Scott decided to do something unexpected, they started their own comics company, WE Comics. Long-time supporters of geeky gals everywhere, Jason and Mairghread are both extremely talented and extraordinarily passionate. I was lucky enough to sit down with them to discuss how WE Comics got its start, what they think about the current state of the comics industry, their first few projects and finally, how they’re planning on taking the industry by storm in the future. Read on and make sure to check out their new website and follow them on FB and Twitter

http://wecomics.com/

http://www.facebook.com/WeComics

@WEComics

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First off, congratulations to you for the release of your first comic, How I Spent My Summer Invasion (available online and in stores) and the upcoming Jimmy Brass: 2nd Grade Detective (a 5-page preview is available online now). They are both incredibly charming and made me laugh out loud multiple times. Tell me a little bit about how WE Comics got started.

Jason Enright: I manage a comic store and comics are pretty much my life. It had started to annoy me that a majority of the comics seemed aimed at 18-34 year old males and pretty much no one else. I have a lot of female friends and a lot of friends with children, and I felt like there was very little I could recommend to my friends to read. Then this awesome book, Womanthology was announced, it’s like 300 pages of comics created by women, and although it is a great read for everyone, it is kind of aimed at women too. At a Womanthology Panel at Comikaze, I was stating my concerns to the panelists. Bonnie Burton just looked me dead in the eye, and said “Stop complaining and make your own comic!” It was tough love but it inspired me to create WE Comics.

Mairghread W Scott: Growing up, my mother used to buy books for everyone, no matter who they were or what the event. She said there was no such thing as a person who didn’t like books, they just hadn’t found the right book yet. When I started reading comics in college, I kept coming across stories that I knew my mother would love, but she insisted that she just wasn’t a comic book person (something I hear a lot). Well, I refused to believe that and (after years of trying) my mother is a devote Wednesday comic book woman, but with less and less diversity on the shelves (in terms of story-type, characters, art style, all of it) I could see why she felt locked out for so long. WE Comics is our way of getting more stories (and more kinds of stories) out there. Our motto is: there’s no such thing as “not a comic book reader,” they just haven’t read our books yet.

 

It never occurred to me to even enter a comic book shop until a couple of years ago. Why do you think that comics and gaming have been so focused on men?

JE: I think it’s because the comic business is so tough right now. Print books are dying and comics are one of the last mainstays of the print industry. I think it’s considered good business by the big wigs to look at what is currently selling and only make more books like that. They are dead wrong. Sure, for most of comics history grown up men have been your readers, but with all these comic movies and TV shows coming out, there is much renewed interest in comics. The main problem right now is when a woman or a mom who just took her kids to see the Avengers, walk into a comic book store, there’s very little on the shelf for them. We hope to change that.

MWS: This may sound harsh, but I don’t care why, and frankly it’s not my job too. It’s not any woman’s job to and I am so frustrated as a female reader with having to explain over and over why I matter. My job is to read good comics, write good comics and sell good comics and if someone’s business model wants to give up on the over 70% of the population that isn’t men 18-35, then more for WE. I’ve learned to speak with my dollars. I loved Womanthology so I hired/begged Candace Ellis, a wonderful Womanthology artist, to draw my book. If you like it, buy it; tell your friends to buy it. Dress up as Opal from Jimmy Brass and tell the world you love our books. I can’t say what other companies will do in the future or what they think of your opinions, but I can guarantee at WE Comics if enough people buy a book, we’ll print more and if people tell us they have a problem, we’ll do everything we can to fix it. Period.

 

What comics to you have in the works right now? Are you going to have more adult-oriented products?

JE: Right now, we are working on 3 books. “How I Spent My Summer Invasion” written by Patrick Rieger and illustrated by Mark Sean Wilson, is a crazy story about two kids on summer break who stumble upon a vacation resort run by aliens. “Jimmy Brass, Second Grade Detective” written by Jake Dickerman and illustrated by Jason Pruett, is about a 2nd grader who solves mysteries for a dollar and his best friend Opal, a kindergartner who keeps him out of trouble. These two books are All Ages stories meant to be for kids, but also very entertaining to adults. Mairghread is doing our first, I guess, grown up book. I’d say it’s for teens and up. Mairghread do you want to tell them about your book?

MWS: Thanks! Triage is the story of a Los Angeles EMT who gets sucked into an underground, super-powered gang war. But it’s also the story about how a woman named Cassie (who’s pretty average) goes from 9-5 job to wanted vigilante, because that’s such a crazy life-choice, I had to explore it. Candace Ellis brings a wonderful expressiveness with the art of Triage and her panels really suck you in. It brings a realism to the story that helps ground it. Good thing too, because you won’t believe how crazy things get.

 

How have you been choosing your writers and artists? If someone is interested in working with you, are you accepting submissions?

JE: Well, right now we’ve mostly been working with friends. Jake went to school with Mairghread. Patrick, we know through some writers’ groups we’re a part of. Our artists we’ve found at conventions, or through Twitter.

MWS: As a new company, it’s been really important for us to start strong and we’ve been blessed to know some dedicated, wonderful people who’ve shared our dream.

JE: Eventually I’d love to take submissions. We really have to see how this first round of books goes. If all goes well, we will be expanding the line. My plan is to do 5 issue story arcs, then have an off season. Sort of like a TV show. So we’d do Jimmy Brass for 5 months, take 2 months off, and then do another 5 issues. So that way, we always have product out, though I will need to shuffle the series, so as Jimmy is wrapping up, a new series will start. Then as that ends the new season of Jimmy Brass will come back. Right now, other than the 3 current series, we only have one other in the works. So I guess I will have to take submissions eventually.

 

What are your short-term goals and if those go well, what are some of your ultimate, long-term goals?

JE: Well, right now we are putting out one issue of each book and testing the market. If those go well and get a fair reaction, we will probably have to turn to Kickstarter to fund the rest of the first arcs. My hope would be that each of these series go at least for 5 issues and a graphic novel collecting the 5. Our long term goals would be to write comics for the rest of our lives. I know Mairghread has much more Triage to tell beyond the first 5 issues, and Jake and I have plotted Jimmy Brass stories for at least 3 graphic novels, maybe more.

MWS: Okay, my secret long-term goal: write a holodeck story. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve loved the idea of a fully explorable, immersive story since I watched Next Generation on my mother’s knee. Honestly, with video games and digital/animated comics, I really think we can do it fairly soon (not the hologram part, though, that’s above WE’s pay grade). I’d love to do the third arc of Triage on an app that lets you see the story from multiple character’s viewpoints or change the ending. I’d love to make a Jimmy Brass issue that you can color in on your iPad or solve the mystery on your own. These things are possible and I (or should I say WE) intend to do them.

 

I’ve been hearing from long-term comics’ fans that even they are starting to purchase most of their comics digitally. How is your new company going to adjust to this new digital sales realm?

JE: For right now we are selling digital comics digitally through our website. Eventually I’d love to get on Comixology, the iTunes store and everywhere else. The thing that I find interesting is that we actually release our books digitally first. As a small company, if the printer is going to take 2 weeks or more, and I can start making money on the comic now by selling it digitally on my site right now, then why would I wait? So for now, digital will be a strong part of our future and we hope to make our digital selections better and offered on more apps and formats as we grow.

MWS: There will always be a place for print at WE, especially with our kids lines (because I’d love to add activities on our kids books and I can’t read my iPad in the tub), but digital is truly our best friend. It lets anyone in the world try out our books instantly for a minimal fee. It saves paper; it saves us money and if everyone bought WE Comics online, we’d be happy as clams.

 

What do you think the major comic companies could do to attract more women readers? Are your comics going to be aimed specifically at women and children or just at a broader base than most mainstream comics?

JE: If DC and Marvel want more women readers, they need to hire more women, and write better women characters. DC has a few great female-friendly books right now in Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Batwoman, and Supergirl, but that’s 4 titles out of 52. That’s 7%, not good enough. Also, why not give Justice League to fan favorite female creators like Gail Simone and Renae de Liz? Don’t just let women write or draw women, let them work on the guys too.

Our tagline is Comics for Everyone Else. So maybe you are not a child or a woman, maybe you’re like me, a 26 year-old dude who wants something new to read. I consider myself part of Everyone Else. I hope eventually we’re writing tons of comics, but for now when we had to pick 3 ideas to produce, we chose to focus on women and kids. We even had another funny tagline we didn’t go with, what was it Mairghread? Women and Children First? But it sounded like what they’d yell as the Titanic sunk.

MWS: I know that when we looked into it, we found that the biggest thing women wanted in comics (besides physically possible body types) was thought-out, character-driven stories where people changed and actions had consequences. They responded much more to stories about people dealing with each other, rather than just fighting random monsters, and they hated being ret-conned every six months. Honestly, (and maybe it’s because I’m a woman) this is just good story-telling to me.  For kids, the feeling was that they wanted a story that was single-issue sized, but didn’t talk down to them. So that’s what we’re doing. Our children’s comics are aimed at children in the sense that a Pixar movie is aimed at children. Obviously, there are stories that are not appropriate to tell, but the stories we do tell are still going to be told in the best way possible and we think everyone can related to them. As sad as it, is our “female-focus” is us writing 3-dimensional women and having more than one of them per title. Cassie in Triage is like Ripley in Alien: an awesome woman in an awesome story that anyone can enjoy. The only thing we’re doing especially for women is reaching out to them and letting them know WE Comics is here. Like I said, there’s no such thing as “not a comic book person” and WE wants to help everyone find the right book.

Avengers

Summer Movie Review: The Avengers (AKA: An ode to Joss Whedon) *spoiler-free*

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**This is a spoiler-free review since I wouldn’t want to spoil one moment of enjoyment of this utterly unique cinematic experience.**

I’ll admit it, I was a bit wary coming into The Avengers screening last night. I have been following this one-of-a-kind cinematic collaboration by Marvel since Iron Man and have been breathlessly waiting to see if they managed to pull it off. The previews looked good, but there were a few shots that left me with some doubt that it would be an okay movie, rather than a cinematic marvel (pun intended). I am so pleased to announce that it is the latter. All of my doubts vanished as the movie quickly unfolded. I really shouldn’t have ever doubted Director (and creative genius) Joss Whedon. He has never disappointed me and he rose above even his own exquisite previous work. Have written the screenplay himself, Joss has created both a singularly unique vision, but also managed to deftly integrate four franchises and set up each hero’s individual journey into their future sequels.

I have to give kudos to not only Joss and his team, but to the creative minds at Marvel that hired him, despite his lack of commercial success. While the geek community may have cheered when he was hired, it wasn’t necessarily the obvious or safe choice, so bravo Marvel for taking that chance. I have no doubts that this will be Joss’ most financially successful film and I sincerely hope that it brings him the far-reaching respect and success outside of the geek community that he so richly deserves. I also have to give a hand to each of the creators of the individual franchises who had to integrate the larger Avengers plot lines into their own films while maintaining their own creative freedom and integrity.

So, is The Avengers the best superhero film ever? While some may argue YES, I think this movie goes beyond that. Never before has such a large-scale integration of films and characters been attempted and I think it would be unfair to compare The Avengers to a movie centered around a single hero. The end result of years of planning, integrating the plots of five films, the bringing together of such talented actors and spinning off of as many as five future franchises deserves a round of applause. The fact that it got made is impressive enough, but the end result is more than I could have dreamed of. But seriously now, I will stop gushing.  Can you tell I’m excited?

I kept having flashes during The Avengers about how the same movie, helmed by a different Director, would have looked. There were moments that came so close to veering into cheese territory, but Whedon’s ever-earnest style of filmmaking never allowed it to go there. There was maybe one frame of the whole movie where I rolled my eyes ever so slightly, and it was something really minor. In true Whedon style, there are moments of both extreme darkness and of side-splitting hilarity. This is the largest action-movie that he has directed and I was a little nervous about his handling of huge action set-pieces, but they did not disappoint. I found myself gripping the arm-rests several times and the audience burst into applause multiple times during the film. There is a real intelligence behind the film (another Whedon trademark) and I will admit, I didn’t entirely understand every little thing that was happening. I can’t wait to watch the film again this weekend for an even deeper appreciation of the script. There were no cheesy recruitment montages, no overly complicated explanations for things that weren’t really needed and plenty of surprises.

You may have heard that Bruce Banner/The Hulk steals the show and you’ve heard right. Not in a bad way though. His character is much more fleshed out and confident than what you saw in both The Hulk and The Incredible Hulk, and the addition of Mark Ruffalo turns out to be a stroke of genius. I will be very surprised if Hulk doesn’t get his own franchise after this film. Each of The Avengers gets their own moments of focus and your enjoyment of the film will be further deepened if you’re caught up on each of their individual films. That having been said, I brought a friend who hadn’t seen anything but the Iron Man films and she loved it too. Scarlet Johannson’s Black Widow also surprised me and I found myself enjoying her far more than I thought I would. There wasn’t a ton of character development for each hero, but that’s not what this film was about and it made me long to see them each in their own films in the future. By not dwelling too much on any one person, the star of this film was truly the ensemble cast as a whole. There are no weak links here in my opinion.

I hope you all enjoy The Avengers as much as I did and I can’t wait for the movie to be released this weekend so that I can start discussing details with all of you. Until then, Avengers Assemble!

 

*Just two quick notes here: 1) As for which format to see it in, I saw it in IMAX 3D and while the 3D was well done and resulted in no headaches, it was really subtle and didn’t add to my enjoyment at all, so I say skip the upgrade charge and see it in 2D. 2) Apparently there are two tags over the credits (I missed the latter!), so make sure you stay until the bitter end!

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Webcomic Review: Shadowbinders

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Shadowbinders is a bright and shiny new webcomic created by the husband and wife team of Thom and Kambrea Pratt. Combining the daily trials and tribulations of high school with adventures in a futuristic steampunk world is a highly original idea that pays off well. The hand-drawn animation style is simple and charming and the digital colors are vibrant and really bring the stories alive.

Our main character is Mia, a spunky, smart and not-so-popular teenage girl drooling after the “hot guy” in school and occasionally dreaming of smashbuckling adventure aboard a flying ship. One day, these dreams become reality and she meets the crew of The True North and its roguish captain, Crimson Rhen. Rhen reminds me of Captain Jack Harkness and is charming, brave and arrogant.

Adventures and mysteries abound throughout the series and I look forward to reading more. The series is currently in the fifth chapter of the adventure and the artists usually release a new panel twice a week and have a very interactive website.  Until then, there’s plenty of catch up, so if you’re looking for a fun romp, check out Shadowbinders at http://shadowbinders.com/.

Tintin

Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin

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As a complete stranger to the world-famous works of Hergé, I went into The Adventure of Tintin with no expectations, but a lot of curiosity. I’ve been hearing about this huge undertaking for years because of the top-notch talent involved. Directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson and written by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, I would have been shocked had the film not turned out to be amazing.

Any fears I had over the film vanished within a few minutes, although I was surprised by the playful tone of the opening credits which were an homage to the original cartoons and a basic, silent introduction to the main character. Tintin, as we quickly learn, is a young reporter who is intelligent, resourceful and successful. The audience receives no real backstory on this character and somehow, I didn’t really mind.

I was mildly curious as to how this young man come to live alone in such a grand house, but I figured that this knowledge was a gift to loyal readers of the comic. The film was a roller coaster from beginning to end. There was very little downtime to dwell on character development, but the exquisite animation of Tintin made me feel an instant connection to the characters. This was the first time I have seen a motion capture animated film where a human character felt so real that I didn’t stop and think, there’s something not quite right here. You could see the soul behind his eyes and I wanted to go on an exciting journey with him.

While I could imagine the story being filmed with real actors, the animation allowed them to honor the original comic style and to produce some truly spectacular set pieces. I can’t imagine the mind-blowing scene with the two pirate ships done with CG. I found my mouth gaping at the action sequences many a time during the short 107 minute runtime. There was humor, adventure, mystery, action galore and even some low-brow jokes for the kids in the audience.

At a time when most of the movies out in theatres are dark Oscar bait or adult action flicks, I think The Adventures of Tintin is the perfect movie to see with the whole family this holiday season. Kids will love the visuals and the belching humor and adults will crack up at hilarious cameos and gawk at the fight sequences. I sincerely hope that American audiences will support this European phenomena so that we can all receive the second two parts of this planned trilogy.

One final word on what format to see the film in. I went all out and viewed it in spectacular 3D IMAX. The 3D is subtle, but the animation stayed crisp and beautiful and it added a lot to my viewing pleasure. There was a mild distortion from the glasses if I didn’t look head-on the whole time, but it was some of the better 3D that I’ve seen out there and I would definitely recommend it if it’s available to you. Enjoy everyone!

Edward

In Defense of Twilight (sparkly vampires and all)

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One thing that I love so much about the geek community is its general acceptance of one another’s obsessions and interests. I love being in a room where I can swoon over that last episode of Caprica, discuss cosplay techniques and have a lively discussion on the relative merits of David Tennant and Matt Smith. As accepting as the community as a whole tends to be, I have noticed a disturbing trend of disdain for certain things, like the Twilight series, that comes across to me as borderline bullying. I get it, you hate the idea of sparkly vampires played by beautiful, mopey actors and the idea of screaming teenage girls fills you with dread. You’re still bitter at the hordes of Twihards that ruined that day in Hall H a few years ago (I totally understand). I am not suggesting that you watch the films (although I think you might be surprised at what you might find if you kept an open mind), but I hold out hope that we can stop mocking certain things so much that I am ashamed to discuss my love of them.

I feel like I have a shameful secret and I try and find subtle ways to determine if my friends might share this love without it be too openly known. I think it’s ridiculous that, as an adult, I feel like I need to hide the fact that I bought tickets for opening night of Breaking Dawn this weekend. I remember walking in Westwood a few years ago and seeing hundreds of teenage girls sleeping on the streets waiting to watch the new movie. In the 5 minutes that I was there, I saw at least 2 cars drive past and yell rude things at them and make fun of them. I have issues with anyone that bullies teenagers and there is no excuse for behavior like this, regardless of how you feel about what they’re into. If a teenage girl is obsessed with a male character who cherishes Edwardian ideals of romance, respect and chastity instead of the latest half-naked pop star, then I say good for them.

I am no Twihard, but I am a true Romantic and if I want to go watch a silly guilty-pleasure movie about teenage love with a sparkly male lead, then I would hope that I wouldn’t be mocked for it. Don’t worry, my interests lie far beyond only this series and I will be there opening weekend to see the Hobbit, The Amazing Spiderman and the other dozen geektastic films coming out next year. As geeks, I’d love to see us all follow the philosophy of Bill and Ted and “be excellent to each other”. I promise, in turn, to not make fun of your Thundercats action figure collection. Okay, well that’s just because I’m jealous, but you know what I mean. We all like things that other people don’t “get” and I think that’s a reason for celebration. You have every right to your opinion, just as I do, I would just hope that we could all treat each other with a little respect and not make others feel ashamed. Geeks unite!

Ringer

Pilot Watch 2011: Ringer

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September is one of my favorite months of the year. The heat in LA finally breaks, mist creeps into the morning sky, leaves start to fall and my DVR slowly becomes fill to the brim with dozens of new TV shows to occupy my evenings. I love TV more than I can tell you and I treat the watching of pilots and the programming of my DVR like some people do sports. I’ll be posting a series of quick, spoiler-free reviews over the next month or so as the networks slowly premiere their new series’. I hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear from you on what you’re watching and enjoying!

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After many months of hype, I was finally able to watch Ringer last night and I had some very mixed thoughts on it. I, like so many other Buffy fans, was thrilled to see Sarah Michelle Gellar back on TV. Her performance as two identical twin sisters is, at times, wonderful. She is able to switch between the uptight, cold Siobhan and the relaxed, fearful Bridget with ease. I don’t think I will be spoiling much (since the trailers do the same) to say that, through a variety of circumstances, Bridget ends up taking over Siobhan’s life. Bridget’s transformation was too smooth for me at several points during the show. I was taken out of the moment by Bridget’s ease with some of the details of Siobhan’s life and one must gather that she is an excellent actress to change lives so fast.

Much is made of duality in the show and mirrors are shown time and time again. While is certainly a theme that should be explored in this show, I felt like I was being beaten over the head with it. The direction lacked some subtlety that I hope will appear as the season progresses. The special effects also ranged from the gorgeous (the mirror scene in the bathroom) to the dreadful (the entire boat sequence). I hope they don’t cut too many corners and use green screens to ill effect, but rather to enhance the twin effect.

While there were many things I didn’t like, I find myself still interested in where the show is headed and I’ll be tuning in again next week. I’m not excited yet, but I’m gonna give it another chance. There are enough good things here and Gellar is a compelling enough actress to make me curious. I hope that Ringer finds its footing soon because the concept of a Film Noir on the CW staring Buffy herself is just too good to go to waste.

Recommended For: Fans of Buffy, Film Noir “light” and those who can’t get enough of twins.

The Good: Attractive cast, Unique plot, Compelling Lead

The Not So Good: Special Effects (sometimes), Direction, Music

WIC Cast

Webseries Spotlight on Walking in Circles: An Epic Tale About Dragons N’ Stuff

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Ever wonder what it would be like if you lived a world where role-playing adventures were real? Where people actually had job titles like Barbarian, Bard, Fighter, Wizard and Druid? Now imagine your adventuring party were made up of real people with serious issues. Where your wizard gets in trouble with a demon debt-collector because he defaulted on his magic school loans or your bard is a whiny rich-kid who cowers in fear during a battle. The creators of the webseries, Walking In Circles: An Epic Tale about Dragons N’ Stuff, have created a hilarious new series of adventures bringing to life just such a world.

The mockumentary series follows the misadventures of a newly-formed adventuring party led by the Barbarian Krag, played by the handsome Eric Radic and looking a bit like a grown-up Atreyu from The Neverending Story. Krag put together his party while drunk in a pub one night and discovers that his new comrades aren’t really great at what they do and he neglected to hire anyone who could guide them, hence their group motto, ‘walking in circles’.

This motley crew is made up of a surfer-dude Barbarian, a Ditsy blond Druid, a sarcastic and bitter Wizard, a spoiled and cowardly Bard, and the silent and homicidal Fighter. They’re all pretty bad at their jobs in one way or another, but this all makes for plenty of entertainment for the audience. During the first battle, Garand, the whimsical rich-boy Bard (played by stand-out Jonah Priour) cowers in fear and plays his lute. When confronted after the fight by Krag and asked why he didn’t fight, Barand earnestly responds, “I was inspiring courage, helloooo”. This line made me die laughing as I am currently playing a Bard in my Pathfinder Campaign and I can totally sympathize. No one respects the Bard!

The dialogue is whip-smart, the cast is charming across the board, the costumes look fantastic and the creators and crew make excellent use of natural Southern California locales. I definitely look forward to seeing what improvements could be made with more funding for future seasons.

I spoke with the creators of Walking In Circles and got to get to know a little bit about the origins of the series and where they’re hoping the series will head in the future:

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Nerds in Babeland: I think I can already guess, but where did the idea for the series come from?

Walking In Circles:  The idea came from years and years of playing Dungeons and Dragons. We always wanted to know what heroic adventurers would be like as real people and to take a look at something epic like slaying a dragon and break it down to where it was just a job. Like some people flip burgers, other people plunder ancient tombs and kill monsters.

NIB: Hah, I think I’d rather fight a dragon than work the drive through at McDonalds. How did you assemble the cast and who writes the show?
WIC: We used CAZT casting. They run a pretty cool service where we get to throw up auditions, actors submit for them, and then they tape the auditions so we can go back later and review everything. And it’s free! James Rodehaver is the writer for the show. He’s a life-long nerd and almost life-long aspiring writer. This is the first project that he’s ever done that got through the first draft stage.

NIB: How do you finance the show?

WIC: The production was primarily funded by Adam Rady, James Rodehaver and Adam Cier. The crew contributed a lot of funding too. For example, our costume and prop designer bought the supplies he used. We were also fortunate enough to have a lot of costumes donated to the project. After production was over we started a fund raising effort on indiegogo.com to get money for advertising, marketing and distribution. Our families and friends were extremely generous and we were able to raise just over $3,600. We’ve set-up a PayPal donation option on the website to help with funding for season 2.

NIB: Where would you like to see the series go next?

WIC: Our current goal is to have season one be successful enough that a second season is possible. We have a lot of story to tell, we just need the means to do it. We’re looking for backing through corporate sponsorship and viewer donations. We’d also like to be able to sell merchandise to support the series.
We’d really like to be able to get to a point where we can pay our crew and actors for their hard work. Everyone involved with this project put a vast amount of effort and love into it and they did it for free. In fact, many of them ended up supporting the project with their own money.

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Visit http://www.walkingincirclestheseries.com/index.html for episode streaming, character sheets, cast/crew bios and hilarious behind the scenes specials like “Krag Kam”. I hope you’ll give this little series a chance. Role-players and newbies alike should enjoy the charming and attractive cast, witty dialogue and the energy of everyone involved.

LOS group

Webseries Spotlight on The League of S.T.E.A.M.

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With the plethora of web series out there right now, it’s difficult to find one that really captures your imagination. I, like so many others, watched a hilarious silent video for a group called the League of S.T.E.A.M. that reproduced the Ghostbusters, “we’re ready to believe you” commercial. Done in the classic 20’s black and white style, this commercial was gorgeously shot, fascinating to watch and made me laugh out loud. I soon discovered that the League had an entire webseries available and the commercial was simply a teaser for what was to come. As it turns out, I was late to the party. When I started becoming active in the Steampunk community in Los Angeles, I would hear mention of the “League” more often than not and when I hosted my first Steampunk happy hour, most of the League happily showed up for the party. While I was introduced to the lively bunch online, their story goes much further back and is grounded in live-performances. I was lucky enough to speak with a few members of the League recently and found out about their origins, how they journeyed to the web and about their plans for Season 2.

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Baron Andrew Von Fogel shared the charming story of how the League first came to be a little over 3 years ago. The Labyrinth of Jareth is a masquerade ball (that just celebrated its 11th year) and is a beacon to those in the Los Angeles area looking to make a splash with their one-of-a-kind costumes and mechanical inventions. It was there that Von Fogel first met Nick Baumann, his lovely wife Robin Blackburn and several of their friends. Apparently Blackburn herself was the catalyst for the formation of the League with her choice of costume for the evening.

Obsessed with Marie Antoinette and 18th century clothing, Blackburn wanted to add something special to her Labyrinth costume that year and she thought back to the ghosts in the Harry Potter films. “I loved the ghostly texture of their garments, and how that texture was applied to the different time periods of each ghost character.  I was hooked and truly inspired by the detail of the 18th century and the use of texture to create an ethereal look.” Baumann quickly caught onto her idea and decided to join her as a ghost hunter and got a small group of friends together to create a group costume. They were the hit of the ball that year and attracted a lot of attention, including from Von Fogel. The newly-formed group quickly bonded over a love of Steampunk costumes and inventions and they found themselves making a regular appearance at the Labyrinth where they are still a highlight of the festivities every year. This year, two members of the League even got engaged on stage. So sweet!

The League started making public appearances all over Southern California and eventually, the whole country. Their live act became so popular that they decided to find a way to move beyond their geographical limitations. Von Fogel had just gotten out of art school and had the necessary equipment and desire to try making a webseries. They started small, filming “Monkey Business” in Griffith Park in five hours and editing the entire thing themselves. They put it up online and the response was overwhelmingly positive and thus the series was born. As a way to get new viewers hooked, the infamous Ghostbusters homage commercial was filmed and placed online. Von Fogel knew that using “pop-culture shorthand” was a great way to get the attention of anyone who had seen the 80s hit and it was a quick and easy entry to the series.

Post-production on the series is performed by League members and comrades which is impressive to say the least considering the incredibly high production value on the series, including some pretty impressive special effects. Von Fogel does the “color grading on all of our episodes, as well as a lot of the visual effects and compositing.  A lot of these skills are self-taught, and others I learned while studying filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design.  We’re also so thankful to have Russ Isler in our group – he’s a very talented visual effects animator, and his help has been invaluable for some of the more difficult effects shots!”

Season One of the League of S.T.E.A.M. contained seven hilarious episodes and even resulted in a spotlight appearance in a Panic at the Disco music video. When asked why she thought the League has become so popular, Blackburn, who plays Lady Potts in the series mused, “maybe it has to do with the “every-person” aspect of what we do.  The characters are the common person with dreams and goals to make things better in their lives.  And though they are constantly met with opposition, many times by their own doing, they get back on their feet and keep going. Or maybe the fans simply love all the cool props and costumes. Or maybe the fans can sense the League is a group of friends with a wild creative streak and an affinity for laughter, that we like to explore and share.  We love what we do, so maybe that’s it.” As a fan of the League myself, I would have to agree with her on all of those points. The series and the group itself are wickedly funny, insanely creative and incredibly grateful for their success.

They have great plans for Season Two of their webseries and of special interest to our readers, Von Fogel announces that “in addition to some more detailed roles for Lady Potts, we’re happy to be adding some great new female characters to our cast, including Ellie Copperbottom – Co-founder of the Jr. League W.A.T.C.H; Katherine Blackmoore – zombie head-basher extraordinaire; and The Russian – cryptozoological researcher!  One of the great things about all of the female characters in the League is that they’re generally smarter and more competent than the men are!”

Just this past weekend, the League reached their funding goal of $10,000 on Kickstarter with the help of their many fans. There’s still a bit more time left on the campaign though, so if you’d still like to donate, they are offering some fantastic incentive packages for donors until August 27th. Additional monies will help them add more locations, monsters and gadgets. I know I’ll be awaiting Season 2 with bated breath and I hope you’ll give these crazy kids a chance if you haven’t already.

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Kickstarter Campaign: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/leagueofsteam/adventures-of-the-league-of-steam-season-two

You can catch up on Season 1, find out live appearances & find out more about the League at: http://leagueofsteam.com/

Twitter: @LeagueOfSTEAM

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