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Geek Culture



I run a Slack group that a handful of friends and I converse in daily about many things nerdy.  Today started out innocently enough with a post in our Boardgames channel. Joel posted a board game based pickup line.  It quickly devolved from there.  For your reading pleasure, here is the NSFW list of line.

I Built a Gaming Table!

I Built a Gaming Table!

Ever since I first saw the Geek Chic products at C2E2 a few years back, I've been slightly obsessed with having my own convertible game table. The only problem is that they are expensive as hell.  Convincing Dani that we needed to invest in one just wasn't going to work.

So then I thought, I'm pretty good at making things... maybe I could make my own table.  Oh poor naive Tori, this was going to be a serious project. First things first, I started to research! I scoured the web for resources.  It turns out more than a few other people had this same idea. So like the good crafty person that I am, I started a Pinterest board! In the end, I decided to take the general approach in the nicely laid out plans here: Game Table Project with Step By Step.

First Try:

With my first attempt at a table, I started with a modified size. I felt like the original size was too large.  This first frame was largely an exercise in how things could not go the way I wanted. It was also a good lesson in how inaccurate pre-dressed lumber and hand power tools can be.

Take Two

I was pretty unhappy with the way the first frame came together. the sides were bowed in and in general it just wasn't how I wanted it.  So I took it apart and started over.  This time following the plan dimensions a bit more closely. Since I don't have a table saw, planer, or various other shop tools I had to make a few substitutions.

  1. My arm rails are an inch wider.
  2. I used pre-made table legs chopped down for height in lieu of the tapered legs.
  3. I used pre-made crown molding under the arm rests

Messing up the Top Insert

The insert is, and has been one of the toughest part of this build. Which is why my table currently sits without one. A couple problems came into play building this piece.  The pre-dressed wood from Home Depot (as previously mentioned) is not precisely cut, and is often slightly bowed. So getting the top measured and cut correctly to fit the opening, which is also ever so slightly off from square, turned out to be a large issue.  

I would up with an insert that fit super tight. There was not enough clearance to allow for the wood to swell in the summer correctly.  In attempting to remedy this I managed to really fuck up the insert by cutting it too short on one end.  I then had the bright idea of cutting it in half and doing adding a piece down the center perpendicular to the other boards.  But again, I ran into issues making this happen with imprecise tools and uneven boards. So currently that part is on hold.  I think I may eventually try to build leafs instead of one large piece.

Finishing it Up

Please excuse the pun, I couldn't help myself.  This was also my first attempt at applying finish to a piece of furniture.  And it taught me a few very valuable lessons.  The first being always try to do your sanding before final assembly. The second lesson was in how messy staining is.  I choose a dark stain to match our other furniture.  I then followed that up with a couple coats of a hybrid oil/water based polyurethane for the arm rests and the inside vault walls.  You can see the finished project below.  Well, I'll say it's finished until I get a table saw and can build the insert leaves.

Always looking to break out some dice. Let me know if you want to come over and play some games!

First time at PAX East

This past weekend was my first foray into the phenomenon that is PAX East. I was, thankfully, able to snag a Saturday ticket right after they went on sale. And got to attend with a few friends and coworkers.  We had fun, played a lot of board games, and I walked the insanely crowded show floor.  I picked up a new board game (Krosmaster Quest) and a couple of ships for X-Wing, which I finally learned how to play.

I was coming down with a cold, so my day was unfortunately a bit subdued. And I failed hard at taking pictures of all the awesome stuff. I think next year I'll try to get a three day pass so I can experience more of the panels and other things going on.  In the mean time, here are the few pics of the fun insanity I took.

Geek & Sundry's Table Top Day - Nerd Block Unboxing

Warning - Spoilers below if you haven't received your block and want to be surprised - turn back now!

Being a huge fan of both Geek & Sundry and table top gaming, I was pretty excited when the themed box finally arrived at my door. Note: This was also my first box from Nerd Block.

So lets take a look at what was inside:

  1. International Tabletop Day T-Shirt
  2. Funko Legacy Magic the Gathering Action Figure (I received Liliana Vess)
  3. No Survivors Note Pad
  4. Felicia Day "Embrace Your Weird" Pencils
  5. Geek and Sundry Bumper Sticker
  6. Dungeons and Dragons Comic Book
  7. Wil Wheaton's D6
  8. Geek & Sundry Tabletop Day themed playing cards
  9. Geek & Sundry RPG Player tokens w/ Bag

Verdict? I'm actually pretty disappointed with this box. The cost on this box was 39.95 plus shipping, which brought the total investment to almost $50.  I have a hard time finding anywhere near that value from this box.  

The t-shirt isn't a high quality shirt. It's just your standard, heavy weight, cotton.  I would have much preferred a Funko POP to the legacy figure.  This particular figure barely sell for $5 on eBay.  Didn't really need another set of playing cards. The tokens, comic, and notepad are ok, and rest of the items are just meh. 

Being as this was a tabletop day box, I was expecting more game type stuff.  Most of this is just game adjacent swag. They could have included a card game like Flux for the cost of the figure. Or even some of the items they include in the tabletop day kit they shipped to retailers last year.

Well, lesson learned here.  I won't be picking up any other Nerd Blocks anytime soon.  Hopefully you will find more value in your box than I did.

Chicago and C2E2 2014

I just got back from a much needed vacation to Chicago. For the third time since 2011 , I attended the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. C2E2, as it's called, has become one of my favorite comic events to attend. It's a great event that's both affordable and isn't completely overwhelming like New York or San Diego.

My parents traveled up from Bloomington, IL and spent the weekend in Chicago as well. It was nice to spend some time with them. Since moving to Boston I don't see them very often.  We spent Thursday together wandering around Chicago. It's always nice to reconnect with my old home. It's an awesome city. I miss it frequently.

Friday I spent the morning walking the show floor. I had a VIP ticket, so they let us on the floor with the pros at 10am. It was nice to have an hour with the floor largely empty. I picked up some show exclusives and a couple toys for my collection.  After they let everyone else on, I headed upstairs for some great panels, including one with writer Gail Simone (One of my favorite writers). After that I attended a panel with an assortment of DC writers and artists.  Finally I headed down to the main show floor (thank you VIP Pass for guaranteed premium seating) for a panel with Torchwood's "Gwen Cooper" - Eve Myles, and wrapped up the day with a Game of Thrones panel including Natalia Tena (Osha) and Kristian Narin (Hodor).

First thing Saturday, I spent some time walking through Artists Alley. I didn't buy any art this year, but I always leave these cons completely awed and inspired by the work of the artists attending. And with the intention of getting back to drawing myself.

One of this weekend's panels I was most excited to attend was the Power Rangers "Reunion" panel. Jason Narvy (Skull), Paul Schrier (Bulk), and Steve Cardenas (Rocky the 2nd Red Ranger) were ridiculously entertaining. I think we laughed more that panel than any all weekend. I finished up Saturday with a "24" reunion. Carlos Bernard (Tony Almeida), James Morrison (Bill Buchanan), and Louis Lombardi (Edgar Styles) were up on stage telling stories and fielding questions. Dani and I have been powering through all 8 seasons of the show the past couple months and are super excited for 24 Live Another Day.

I usually just got back on Sunday to wander around the floor a little more and maybe take in one last panel.  However there were a couple this time I had to see.  One was a special private event for Marvel Unlimited Plus members (subscribers of Marvel's digital comics app). We got some cool swag and were privy to some neat previews. Including some test footage from the new Ant Man Movie, which is going to be great.  And then I wrapped up my C2E2 weekend by seeing Stan Lee, in a Q&Q panel. This was my first time catching him live anywhere, so it was pretty special. Excelsior!!  Below are some pics I snapped from around the event.

One of the coolest parts of these show is all the amazing cosplayers that attend. So much time, energy and creativity goes into making these awesome costumes. And with a huge "Hero's of Cosplay" event going on Saturday night, awesome costumes were not in short supply. This is just a small sample of what was there.

I was sad when the weekend wrapped up. It was a great experience and a much needed vacation. I didn't want it to end. I came back feeling refreshed and inspired to be more creative.  I had said earlier that I wasn't planning on doing NYCC this year. But now I'm reconsidering. It's just too much fun!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Signing

To this day, my favorite, and arguably the best, comic book / cartoon / movie / toy lines is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I still have vivid memories of being a young kid in the toy aisle of this store called Roses, seeing those first toys on the pegs. After that came the cartoons, Archie comic books, coloring books, movies, and years of my elementary school art teacher begging me to draw something other than a ninja turtle.

Last summer, on a trip up to Wells/Ogunquit Maine with the wife, we drove by this shop called Shellback Artworks on Rt 1.  The distinctively TMNT branded signage immediately drew me in. Turns out it's owned by an artist named Steve Lavigne.  He is known for his lettering and coloring work on the older Mirage TMNT comics. He wasn't there that time, but we took a spin around the shop, the art gallery upstairs, and met his wife.

Recently on Facebook, he announced a signing at the shop. Peter Laird, as in the Laird of "Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was going to be there along with TMNT artist Jim Lawson. I definitely couldn't pass that up. So I gathered up a few belongings to get signed and drove up for the afternoon. It was amazing!

I'm kind of shy, so I didn't really say much to them. But in the off chance that Peter Laird ever reads this, I wanted to say "Thank you for the Turtles. The characters have brought, and continue to bring, me hours of enjoyment in all their various incarnations."

Some pictures from the event and the items I got signed are below.

July 2013 Loot Crate Unboxing

Sorry I'm a bit late on this unboxing. I had knee surgery on the 19th, and hadn't had a chance to get to it quite yet. The theme for July is "Varsity". That fits with the fact that it's largely a "Video Game High School" (VGHS) themed box.

I wasn't familiar with VGHS prior to this months crate. OK, I honestly had never heard of the web series. So I found the entire series as a movie on Netflix and took a look. It was an interesting show. Nicely done and well produced. However I think the target demographic for the show is slightly younger than me. 

Anyways, onto the unboxing...

So right off the top, we see a newer, slightly larger shipping box. And inside we are met right away with a PEZ dispenser and some star wars head phones. Ok, good start.

Here's the full crate revealed. Here's the full rundown of what's included -

  • Star Wars Earbuds from Jazwares and Lucasfilms Ltd
  • Video Game High School Season 1 DVD Set from VGHS
  • Marvel Pez Dispenser from PEZ and Marvel
  • Video Game High School Button Set from VGHS
  • VGHS Stormtrooper Vinyl Sticker from Danger-Brain and VGHS
  • VGHS 'Emergency Wireless Keyboard' Pencil from Danger-Brain and VGHS
  • Sonic Air Freshener from Epic-Scents and Sega
  • Rocket Jump Vinyl Sticker from Rockery Jump

Here we've got all the VGHS themed  items in the crate. Nothing crazy exciting here for me. I wound up watching the show on Netflix like I mentioned earlier, so the DVD isn't terribly compelling. The storm trooper sticker is kinda cool. I'll find a place to stick that for sure.

The rest of the items are pretty sweet though. Star Wars ear buds... classy.

 Sonic air freshener... errr... fresh. That'll go up next to my Megaman Air Freshener from the February crate.

 PEZ Candy Dispenser... sweet.  Not a huge Captain America fan, would have rather had Wolverine, but them's the breaks. However I do like candy and it's been forever since I've had PEZ candy. Forgot how sugary yummy it is.

Like what you've seen here and want to get your own crate each month? It's super easy, just hit this link and sign up. It takes two minutes and starts at only $13.37/month plus shipping. Sign up today! 

June 2013 Loot Crate Unboxing

I came home from our weekend away in Syracuse to find the June 2013 Loot Crate waiting at my door. Score!  The topic this month was MASHUP and we have seen some pretty rad mashup posts from the Loot Crate crew on their Facebook page leading up to this months delivery.

Last months box wasn't as great as some of the previous ones, but this one really made up for it.  Let's check it out!

First up from BIC we have a Tech Stylus 2 in 1 pen.  it's a combo retractable ball point pen and stylus.  The stylus end looks like of like a black round eraser.  I tried it out on the iPhone and it actually works pretty well.

Also seen here is the Loot Crate branded wall Tangrams. Now I love tangrams. It's a great logic puzzle. With a quick search online you can find the puzzles to use your wall tangrams with.

Continuing on, we have some pretty sweet 8-bit sunglasses, always fun Warheads candies, and a couple of pretty awesome stickers. Especially loving the Mario and Ninja Turtles mashup sticker by Hairbrained Design.

Last but not least, we have a Comickaze golden ticket and a t-shirt! Yes! So the golden ticket is for a con that I was actually unaware of.  Stan Lee's Comikaze is a mulit-media pop culture convention in LA happening in early November.  My "code" only netted me 20% off the tickets - which unfortunately is no where near enough to prompt me to spend the cash to fly out for it. Oh well!

On to the shirt! So you may say to yourself, what does the "Kool-aid Man and Dead Pool have in common?"... Well aside from similar coloring absolutely nothing.   Good thing that being similarly colored is good enough for the awesome mash up shirt. Check it out and be super jealous you don't have one!

Seen enough to say to yourself, "I really want my own Loot Crate every month!"? It's super easy, just hit this link and sign up. It takes two minutes and starts at only $13.37/month plus shipping. Sign up today!

May 2013 Loot Crate UnCrating

Another epic month in the world of Loot Crate. This month's theme was "Equip".

A bit different look for the crate this month. There wasn't really any high-end item like the previous couple months with the Funko and Kid-Robot toys. Still, it was a pretty nice box, and I finally got my loot crate ID card!

 Let's see what we got:

Here's the list of loot: 

  • One Year Digital Subscription to Pure Nintendo Magazine
  • 8 Bit Space Invaders Bow Tie from Black Tie Geek
  • Don't Panic Towel
  • Ninja Cord Wrap
  • Super Mario Coin Candies from Boston America
  • "Inanimate Stickers" from Fred & Friends
  • A Papercraft Ironman
  • A little DC Comics statue

I haven't yet checked out the magazine yet, but based on the website it looks pretty cool.  The bow tie is currently being adorned by my 28" MattyCollector Voltron until a time comes in which I have an appropriate event to wear it to. The candies were delicious and I kinda love having a little metal Mario coin block on my desk.

The rest of the stuff I'm a bit *meh* on.  I got The Flash as my DC statue and he's not really one of my favs. The towel, stickers, and cord wrap are kinda neat, but I don't see myself doing much with them. Though I find myself playing with the little cord wrap guy on my desk from time to time.  And one of these days I'll get around to putting the papercraft together. I do enjoy a good papercraft.  Check out the rest of the pictures of the loot below. 

If you are interested in getting your own Loot Crate, please use the following link to sign up - it'll help me out too!  Get Your Loot Crate Here

2013 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo


This post is quite a bit late in coming, but I wanted to revisit my awesome weekend in Chicago. I had originally planned on going to this show's sister show, the New York Comic Con this past October. But due to having my place to stay fall through and it being absurdly expensive to get a motel room in Manhattan, I had to call it off.  So I just pivoted and planned a trip to the Chicago show instead. I went two years ago, and it was a blast.

I made sure to be at the show first thing on Friday. I wanted to hit the show floor before all the craziness happened. The size of the show was so much bigger this year than in 2011. By the time I finished walking all of it, I was exhausted. I wound up finding several toys that had been eluding me for a while including a MOTUC Roboto, a mint on the card Silverhawks Quicksilver figures, and a vintage Hoard Trooper figure from the He-Man toy line. All super awesome stuff. I even took in a show the varient stage where a group was performing the entire "Once More with Feeling" musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Very Entertaining.

New this year was a section of the floor called "The Block" which was like Artist's Alley, but for people who make comic and entertainment related toys and other goods. Lots of cool indie action figures, art toys and all kinds of neat stuff.

I didn't make it back on Saturday. The good friends I stayed with offered up a trip to the zoo instead. I couldn't pass it up. Spending a day with friends was just what I needed to take my mind off of the awful events from a couple weeks prior.  Such a blast.

Sunday I made it back in for a while. The floor was SUPER crowded at this point. Since the last day is "Family Day", there was a lot more children and people in general. I was really glad I did the floor on Friday.  The one panel of the show I actually made it to all weekend was the "Drawing DC" panel where you got to watch several DC artists including Chris Burnham, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke sketch on a projector while they talk about what they do and answer audience questions. It was my favorite panel in 2011 and this one didn't disappoint either. You can see one of Burnham's sketches below.

All in all it was a great weekend. And while I did miss quite a bit of the panels, I still highly enjoyed spending time on the floor and see all the amazing artwork in Artist's Alley and The Block.  Below are some pictures from the event.