We are well aware that consumerism is rampant in our society. There is a constant pressure to buy this, watch this, eat that, do this, do that, and try not to have your head spin while doing so. Most people get by just fine feeding into that machine minimally, but we, the few, the proud, the geeks, we buy into it whole hog. We consume media at an alarming rate, where binge watching is the norm. We are the orphan boy who says “Please, Sir, may I have some more?” and instead of the gruff Orphan Master’s incredulous “MORE!?”, we are greeted with something more akin to “Sure. Go ahead kid, knock yourself out.” I’m not saying this is entirely a bad thing, but the question is, how can we make sure that we are not overloading ourselves and yet still enjoy all of our wonderful geekery? Is there a way to still devour the things we love, without having it take over our entire lives? Here are some thoughts for a more conscious kind of consumption:

1) Make sure you are not trying to match your life to the things you read or watch.

This is a common pitfall we need to actively try to avoid. Your life is not a television show, movie, or novel. These are fabrications, often wonderful ones, but they are entirely purposeful, and the dull middle parts have been skillfully omitted. The truth is that a vast majority of our lives are quite boring. Few shows of movies feature prolonged stints at the DMV, for example. Well, except for Reaper.

The DMV being a gateway to hell sounds about right.
We subconsciously try to match what happens in our lives to what we experience through stories, because we like narrative. It’s easy and digestible. Fight the narrative. Become comfortable with the unexciting.
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Boudica: the Headhunter Queen (20s?-60 AD)



At the height of its power, Rome once seriously considered giving up its British holdings entirely. The reason? Queen Boudica, whose brutal revenge spree made her the Roman bogeyman for generations. She killed 70,000 people, burnt London to the ground, established herself as the most famous headhunter of all time - and to this day, Britain loves her for it.

You can stop emailing me about her now. More after the cut.

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                    Some of you may not understand the title, so allow me to clarify and let you in on the joke. The word Sassenach is a Scot word used in the Outlander universe to mean, well, Outlander. Sassenach is basically slang for anyone not of Scottish origin. For those of you that don’t know, Outlander is the first book in a multiple book series by author Diana Gabaldon. These books were so well received that Starz Network partnered with Gabaldon to turn her books into a television series.

            I, like most who had not read the books, didn’t understand what the hype was about. It wasn’t until the first episode that I got it. It has mother beeping Time Travel. The book and series introduce you to a world of amazing characters.  You have Claire Randall, an ex combat nurse, who is on a second honeymoon with her husband in 1945. She is at an ancient stone circle one day and innocently touches a standing stone. This simple act of touching a stone propels her back  to the year 1743.  So now she is a British woman in war torn Scotland, where that isn’t a good thing to be. You have Jamie Fraser, Claire’s protector. Ferociously loyal and in love with Claire. The odds of anything hurting her are slim to none when this red headed tombstone’s around, and if his romance-novel-cover-boy status wasn’t already set, he also has breaks horses, which shows you the depth of his patients and ability for love and compassion. Stick all of that in the body of a 6’4 Scottish mountain, who looks like he bends horse shoes by hand, and you have Jamie Fraser.

            Using real events in Scottish history as her backdrop,  Ms Gabaldon weaves a wonder of a Chrono Love story. The books are so popular, that the TV series pre-released its pilot a week before it premiered for its on demand customers. In one week before its official release it racked up nine hundred thousand views. Following the official releases the number jumped to 3.7 million. The response was so great, Starz has been rumored to have green lit season two after one episode.

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Based on Thomas Maier’s biography of the same name, Showtime’s ‘Masters of Sex’ is still topping reviews well into its sophomore season. The period drama follows the lives of two revolutionary scientists in the late 1950’s, James Masters and Virginia Johnson, and their groundbreaking study of human sexuality.

But while sex sells, there is certainly more driving the success of the show. First, for a headliner show about sex, ‘Masters’ is being proclaimed as one of the most progressive programs available, and it really is. The show is being hailed as a feminist revelation, and having Lizzy Caplan of Mean Girls fame hasn’t hurt in that respect. A single mother of two balancing work and a driving focus on her scientific work, Caplan’s Johnson is pragmatic, independent and wholly believable. Her standout performance is shared by a cast of other rounded-out women. With Sarah Silverman joining the cast as Helen, who shares a lesbian romance with lover Betty (played by Annaleigh Ashford), the show is one of the first where women and the sexual “outliers” have more screen time than the heterosexual men. The historical exploration of gay sexuality with the character of Barton Scully, played by Beau Bridges, is dark and definitive. In an attempt to renew his relationship with his wife, the closeted husband undergoes shock therapy, a practice typical of the time, in order to extricate his homosexual instincts. The treatment is shown as something entirely normal, for an age that’s younger than most people walking the earth. At times, the understandings of sex and humanity seem juvenile, and its easy to dismiss them as ignorant. But what the show does so beautifully is a measurement of progress. Scully’s wife has trouble describing an orgasm, because she’s never had one. Another couple enters Masters office with the issue of infertility. In a comic scene, Johnson needs to explain the practice of sex, because simply “lying with each other” does not produce a child. Measurement of educational, scientific, and sexual progress is at the heart of the show.

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The Ace of Geeks are joined by MalKontent and Melissa, and check out Lootcrate’s new Firefly fan film, The Verse. Plus! Assassin’s Creed casting makes Jarys stomp around the room! Little kids can have Iron Man hands! And who’s to blame for The Amazing Spider-man 2?

Editor’s Note: The article was originally written for samanthaswords' Tumblr,  and is reprinted with permission here.

At last, I have been able to do a proper write up about my outstandingly fun summer!

I’ve always wanted to be part of an ‘American Summer Camp’ experience. Coming from the distant South Pacific, where holidays are a few weeks long at most, the idea of months of endless fun in a camp setting was a real draw for me.

Then I was invited to take part in Guard Up’s Wizards and Warriors summer camps, which are live action role play adventures themed as an apocalyptic zombie war (with Nerf blasters and water pistols) followed by two medieval-fantasy sessions. Each camp is unique, with a continuous and completely dynamic storyline that adapts to the decisions young Heroes make within the world.

Run by a team of multi-skilled actor/counselor/educators, the fantasy world is populated by monsters and NPCs, and filled with quests that build up to an overall story.
(For more on Zombie Camp, check out my previous post or see the camp video)

Above: My character seeks aid from the greater spirit Coyote, a master trickster who is only engaged when he is entertained. To achieve this, she burst into spontaneous singing and dancing for his (and the Heroes’) amusement.

Below: One does not simply waste summer…

There is a strong educational component (cunningly disguised as ways to upskill a character) and young heroes have the ability to solve problems together that lead to solutions within the game. The camps are set in the world of Sidleterra, a place that has the power to summon beings from mythology or literature, and Heroes to fight for the good of the land. This year was a combined Doctor Who and Norse theme, and my character was revealed to be really be Muninn, one of the Ravens of Odin.

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*When I started this article. I had the idea that I was going to make it about skills, levels and PVP ranks. Yes, some of the grandparents I talked to are PVP-ranked. But as I talked with them, I found a bigger story - a story about family bonding. I decided to share that instead. After all, toons can be re-rolled, but you can’t re-roll a family member. (Unless you’re playing the Sims. -Ed)

I play MMO’s with my grandson, who’s going to be 5 years old soon. He loves running around trashing mobs and collecting loot. He doesn’t quite have the patience yet to finish a quest, but we’re working on that. His parents let him play The Last of Us, (WHAT?! -Ed) and he does pretty well - except when he hits a point that he has to actually complete a task or quest in order to progress. Whenever he comes over to my house, the first thing he says to me is “Hi Grandma! I missed you! Can we play teams now?? PLEASE???” So we play some XBox games - Marvel vs. Capcom 3 usually to start, and we then eventually end up going to the computer room and playing Guild Wars 2 or Neverwinter. He wants to play Diablo 3 with me but I don’t have it. Then he tries to be helpful.  ”Aww. Let’s go get it! I know where it lives - it stays at the store!”

Some of my favorite gamers I know are grandparents. They have been gaming since Bally pinball machines, Atari Pong arcade machines, ColecoVision consoles and the D&D white box. Some of them have been gaming since they were in high school, and a few of them have started gaming as a way of doing things with their grandkids. I work with some of them, and I game with some of them. I know some of them from way back, and a few I’ve met just since moving from Colorado to Texas.

Debbie started playing Neverwinter with her teen-aged grandson recently. She’s up to level 24 with her Human Guardian Fighter. She’s never played anything like this before, and is having a lot of fun with it. “I can see why people get addicted to this and just want to spend so much time - the worlds are beautiful, and it’s a lot of fun to run around looking for loot and raiding!” Her grandson had been asking her to join him online. They hardly see each other anymore because he had to move away with his parents. She finally gave in. “I don’t know what took me so long!” Now she enjoys it, and she says her grandson gets fussy when he finds out that she was playing without him.

See, Grandma, when you play without me, this happens.”

Mary plays console games with her grandkids who are 6 and 10 years old. She says they like the Nintendo games - Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros. and the Mario Party games. But when they go to bed, she plays The Last of Us, Dead Island, and the Silent Hill games. She says she’s owned everything from the Atari 2600 to the XBox One that she just got earlier this year. She also has every PlayStation console except the 4 (that’s next on her list), and her husband Eric still has his Magnavox Odyssey, and his first edition white box D&D game. He still runs first edition D&D with it for some of his old high school buddies. They are collectors, as well as gamers - and they have an extensive collection. Eric has an old PacMan table and a Space Invaders arcade game in his basement. Both the machines work, and they accept quarters - not tokens. The grandkids get an allowance, and if they want to play the old school games, they gotta pay. Eric’s friends drop quarters in them all the time. The money goes into college funds for his grandkids.

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Yeah I’m concerned too.

Let me preface this review,  I love My Fair Lady, like, in a really deep way.  I will literally kill to play Eliza Doolittle. I have all the songs and words memorized in case the occasion rises and I need to be Eliza. I’ve been known to sing “Just You Wait, Henry Higgins” in lieu of glaring at my husband. With that in mind, you understand how I was prepared to hate “Selfie” with every fiber of my being. How could they take a social commentary piece about the shallowness of society, judging a person based on how they speak, and make a show about the shallowness of society, judging a person based on her social networking addictions?  Oh. Huh. That actually works.

It’s Eliza, Ms. Dooley if you’re nasty

Selfie is an ABC network show based loosely on My Fair Lady (according to the ABC.com website).  They’ve modernized the story and instead of teaching Eliza (Karen Gillian, who you remember from Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Who) how to speak, Henry (John Cho, who you remember from Harold and Kumar and Star Trek) is teaching her how to be a real person, not a social media flake.  For being “loosely” based on My Fair Lady, they really referenced it a lot.  Not just in plot points (organized into a handy dandy chart below), but they actually reference the play at one point, when Eliza tells Henry to go all “my fair lady” on her.

They’ve kinda hit all the major plot points in the first episode, so I’m not sure how they plan on maintaining it.

It is also clear that the creator intended this to be a musical.  Henry and Eliza have a tendency for speaking in rhyme for no reason, and there was an acapella Lady Gaga moment that really made no sense. Why they would take the musical out but leave the rhymes in is a mystery.

(Read the full article for more.)

A few weeks ago, the geek world fell into despair. Guardians of the Galaxy, far and away the best movie of the summer, had been beaten in its second weekend by a movie everyone had been dreading - the Michael Bay-produced adaptation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And with good reason - everything we’d seen in the trailers showed us a bland, humorless world of Bayformers style explosions and giant robots.

This weekend, given two hours or so to see a movie and not able to see Guardians for the fourth time, I finally gave in a purchased a ticket to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Was it bad? Was it really bad? Was it Revenge of the Fallen bad? All these questions and more will be answered, as you read on.
First of all, spoilers ahead, for those of you who care.

Second of all, the answer to all three questions above: No.

The fact that Ninja Turtles is a decent movie is a huge surprise, given the trailers and the producer. Is it a great movie? No. There are definitely still some major problems with it. Let’s take a look:

Who let this through? Who allowed this? The turtles have noses, and dead eyes, and are so over-designed that they look kind of terrifying. They’re also god-damn-gigantic, which makes no sense for creatures that are supposed to be lithe and stealthy. Each character is given a distinct costume to show off their interests - which is actually a great idea. But there’s so much stuff crammed onto each Turtle that they just look like a confusing mess. And they’re not nearly as terrifying as-
I cannot find a single publicity photo of Splinter that shows his face, so this will have to do. Luckily, it’s a good representation. His face is the worst CG effect in the movie, with jet-black eyes and fur that looks like it came straight out of Monsters Inc, ten years ago. Combine that with two major problems: 1) He’s played by a white dude. (Tony Shaloub. Who’s a great actor! But not a great Splinter.) A white dude who’s not even trying to do a Japanese accent. 2) In this version, Splinter is not a Japanese warrior who knows Ninjitsu from years of training, he’s a mutated rat who accidentally found a book on Ninjitsu in the sewer. It’s…a bit hard to swallow.
Poor Megan Fox. Seriously - after proving that she was completely replaceable in the Transformers series, her old boss brought her back for this one, and it’s almost exactly as bad as we’d feared. I give her a lot of credit, she’s clearly trying like her career depends on it. And it’s certainly not, say, a Kristin Stewart performance. She shows emotion, and even a little character growth…but her line readings are so consistently terrible that it takes you right out of the movie. And this movie cannot afford to do that.
That’s about what we expected. So why do I still call it a decent movie? Because, the fact is, I came out of it with a big smile on my face. There are huge chunks of this film that are flat out fun, and you can tell director Jonathan Liebsman and crew had an understanding of their source material that many Bay adaptations often lack. So here’s what’s good, or even great about this film:
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