Saturday, June 23, 2012

[JT] Random Fandom: Creepypasta

 Good Evening </Alfred Hitchock voice>,   and welcome to the newest series here at NerdPop: Random Fandom!  Basically, this will be the place for the one shot pieces on the random little interests that make us giddy and send chills down our spines, and nothing sends chills down your spine like a good horror story.

Everyone loves to be scared.  Whether they admit it or not, the scaredy-cat in your group enjoys the chill and the terror, and they have it good.

"Horror fans.  We're kind of like drug addicts.  We're always chasing that first high we had when we saw the first movie that scared the crap out of us"
 -Chiller's "The Future of Fear"
The scaredy-cats are actually still affected by horror movies.  They still get that rush.  However the more horror you are exposed to, the less it actually scares you.  That's why we chase new ways to be afraid.

There are plenty of mediums for one to turn to when looking for that next shiver to run down their spine.  The classic and the original is a good book.  Admittedly, this is one medium I have yet to try, despite how much I want to pick up a classic like Dracula.  Then there is the go-to that first pops into everyone's mind: movies (I'm a sucker for the documentary-style movies like The Blair-Witch ProjectParanormal Activity, and the little known Lake Mungo from the After Dark Horrorfest line). There's also video games.  Everyone knows the Silent Hill and Resident Evil series.  However, this time we'll be talking about one of the little known forms of horror, and something I have been on an intense kick for lately, CreepyPasta.

Creepypasta - Creepy stories that float around on the Interwebs. 

Basically, CreepyPasta are a genre of horror that replace the campfire with fiber-optic wiring and the late night glow of a computer monitor reflected in your eyes.  For instance, tonight, I will spending my time on, reading up on more stories to try and make me sleep with my head hidden under the covers.  Here is a small taste of the things you will get when you dive into the Pasta...
This little gem is read by MrCreepyPasta, my favorite youtube Pasta reader (his channel can be found here).   There are other great readers as well, but MCP's enunciation, pacing, and cadence are just spot on to make you feel connected to the narrator of the story.

The great thing about CreepyPasta stories are how absurd some of them are (Marble Hornets and Slender Man are perfect examples), while still making you wonder is this really just a story?  Or is it possible this actually happened???  Because of how odd some of these stories can be, Pastas can take their inspirations from a plethora of different sources, even video games.  Here is the first of a five-part Pasta series based off of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (again done by MCP).
Make sure you watch the video clips that accompany this and the other posts as well.

Before I wrap up, I want to take a small second and mention a CreepyPasta series that is very near and dear to me:  The Holder Series.  This is a set of short stories that tell of these seemingly random items that when brought together will bring about some fate on the world, and because of such, they must never come together.  Now, do not let the number of items fool you when browsing the site.  It says there are 2538 items, but if you look a little closer, there are large jumps between item numbers.  That is not to say there are not a lot of them.  The reason that this series is so near and dear to my heart is because I have tried TWICE to read the entire series, and had to give up from the sheer volume.  Each individual piece tells it's own story though, and most, if not all, of the pieces are thoroughly enjoyable.  You might also be lucky enough to find some Pasta readers on youtube who have read some of these for your listening pleasure.  I know MCP has done some.

I hope I have peaked your interest in a new medium of horror, or perhaps horror itself.  Give CreepyPasta a chance.  I won't sit here and tell you every single piece pure gold, but there are more gems than there are fool's gold.  That is another beauty of CreepyPasta (and usually horror itself), the only way to know is to try it, and by the time you realize you have an intense story, the chills are already running down your spine...

You're not scared... right?
- JT

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

[Jas] ConView - Anime Next 2012

[JT's note:  A little introduction.  While not the guest author I was speaking about in my (god awful) Blender 2 post, Jas is a surrogate little sister of mine and one of my closest friends.  You might remember her as my dueling partner when trying out the Monsuno CCG.]
One of the four available badge designs (Totally forgot to Pre-reg this year, oops)

Up at 6am. Wigs in the backseat along with luggage. Breakfast at McDonald's (A convention tradition). Then 6 hours on the road in my bright yellow jeep! Starbucks cups in the cup holders and the drive wouldn’t be complete without crazy people on the road (Honestly, since when have semi-trucks went 90mph and swerved around the road? That’s news to me!). iPhone as a GPS since my right-hand woman happens to be unable to tell direction. Then CON TIME!

Random artsy photo of fake hotel flowers
So we stayed at the courtyard Marriot, which was a block or two away from the convention. The walk wasn’t too nice in the hot weather or in heels, but it was close enough!  Not to mention the room was a steal and bigger than we thought it would be.  There were 5 of us in the room (Shhhhh don’t tell!) and honestly we are the best group ever! (Oh is my ego showing?) The cafĂ© in the hotel served Starbucks coffee but the barista’s left a lot to be desired. Although this is the barista in me talking, but I’d much rather have jumped over the bar and made that caramel macchiato myself, for real.

For giggles, the DoubleTree had a fire alarm incident in the middle of the night. Glad I missed that one [JT's note: Seems to be a common occurrence with our groups.  Colossalcon 2010 (a.k.a. Tornadocon), we slept right through the sirens and the banging on our door to get us into the basement because there were tornadoes touching down all around the resort.  THIS ONE (*points to Jas*) and two others thought it was me and the other two people in our group trying to get back in the room because we lost our key.  So she promptly goes back to sleep without answering -_-.]. 

My group attends conventions solely for photography + cosplay so we never really are able to attend any panels or other events. We get stopped too many times to ever get into them, and waiting in lines never seems to be our thing. So I can’t say much about the events but we did check out the dealer’s room and artist alley!

This was my second year at AnimeNext and the round-about way to get into the dealer’s room really threw us all off (considering last year the entrance was inside and easy to get to). Not only was it confusing, but it was really annoying to have to leave the convention center, walk around the building, and enter into some creepy back door. Last year’s dealer room was much better.

Artist alley was about the same as last year, I remembered seeing a few familiar faces and also some new ones as well! There was a lot of talent this year and I got some great pieces. AA is always one of my favorite parts of a convention aside from the dealers room.

MY SPOILS! Bwahaha! mmm Bunny
The location is decent for photos, the best locations are around the lake and the little red pier. There are some other areas around the center that can be used for good photos but most of the groups/meet-ups are around the little lake. I’ve gotten some great shots from AN and I love meeting new photographers and seeing what they can do with the landscape.

Spoils of war: A mask, 3 blind boxes from Tiger and Bunny, melon bread + snacks, and a fuzzy alpaca hat (From dealer’s room) annddd 1 print, 1 sticker, and 1 clay dragon (from Artist Alley)

Gosh, I can’t even get started on this. There were SO many talented cosplayers this year and we were stopping people all over the place for photos….and I mean ALL OVER THE PLACE! (walkways, pools, lakes, streets, hotel lobbys, restaurant waiting areas, and the works!) At one point I fell asleep in the grass in the middle of a shoot, oops, there are some lovely candid photos of that.....of which I won't be showing you. :P

HNNNGGGHHHHH Xiaolin Showdown group made my ENTIRE day!! Each of these cosplayers were amazing!

The two cosplays I debuted at this convention were Alibaba from Magi (shown below!) and Nevan from DMC 3. Though for Nevan there is a con rule about 80% of skin being covered, so I had to wear a little wrap thing to cover my boobs [JT's note: Do I really need to make a joke here?  Or can I just let everyone else fill in their own?]. It was also my first experience with body paint, which went better than expected but I still have a lot to learn!!

Necessary photo of me (and Sarah) being totally durps in the middle of a shoot

All the cosplayers that I met were so nice along with the photographers. Plus it’s always fun to meet up with old friends that I only see a few times a year at conventions!!

Here have a photo of a Nyan Cat cosplayer!
So I’ve been cosplaying and con-going for around 6 years now and AN is one of my favorite cons mainly because I get to see some close friends I otherwise don’t get to see. Spending time with friends is really the most fun parts of a convention. So let’s see…

Artist Alley: 4/5
Dealers Room: 4/5
Location: 4/5
Hotel: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

Favorite thing about AN this year? Seeing everyone and ogling all the cosplayers. Least favorite thing? Paying tolls on I-76. Ugh, I hate the turnpike. Also, this convention got me into MLP. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

[JT's Final note:  Hope you all enjoyed Jas's first guest spot here.  She'll be doing more in the future, but if you'll excuse us, I'm going to go put her back in her cage so she can learn to english good. -_-]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

[JT] CGC: MtG Podcasts with a splash of FNM

Two posts in one week?!  What?!  Told you I caught a second wind ; P

*cue intro music... fades out*
Hellllllo again and welcome to The Card Game Corner (said in the voice of Chewie from The Mana Pool).  So this time around, I am going to do what I have been saying I would do for weeks now: a small review of Magic podcasts.  I will be talking about three casts; mainly because they are the three I am listening/have listened to over the past few months.  Also, because it is relevant to one of the podcasts, I will be doing a small FNM report from this week.  Ok, enough intro.  Just hit play already!

3) The Avant Card Show

Let's start at the end of the line with the now defunct Avant Card Show.  If you are into casual magic and just having fun while you play, they are a great place to start.  They are (er.... were...) a great, hilarious cast that focused on multi-player.  Unfortunately, my judgment is a little bit skewed since I actually listened to them SECOND, after my number one podcast which we will get to in a little bit, so ACS just couldn't quite live up.

That being said, I will re-iterate that they are a HILARIOUS podcast that I REALLY wish would come back for more episodes... 

2) Limited Resources

I mentioned this podcast before, but I HAVE to mention them again.  I have recently decided that Standard just is not for me.  It's fun, but the huge money curve in the game just is NOT worth it.  So I am sticking to playing fun, budget-ish Standard decks while focusing on Sealed play, and Limited Resources (episode 1) is the podcast I have gone to to help better my game.  Marshall Sutcliffe (@Marshall_LR) and Jon Loucks (@JonLoucks) give great insight to both how the format is played as well as how the cards themselves fit into that format.

It is here that I wanted to give a little FNM report, because this was the first week that I was able to draft after subscribing to the School of LR.  I sadly didn't perform too well, but I think it is worth talking about it anyway.  First, what I drafted...

-Butcher Ghoul x5
-Corpse Trader
-Undead Executioner
-Nephalia Smuggler
-Tandem Lookout
-Mist Raven
-Gryff Vanguard x3
-Havengul Skaab

-Bone Splinters
-Predator's Gambit x2
-Peel from Reality
-Ghostly Flicker x2

Human Frailty x2
Grave Exchange
Essence Harvest x2
Second Guess
Galvanic Alchemist x2
Searchlight Geist
Ghostform x2
Havengul Skaab x2
Rotcrown Ghoul x3
Scroll of Griselbrand
Battle Hymn

The first thing I want to talk about is the picks.  Pack One, I crack a Tybalt and a foil-y Desolate Lighthouse.  After having listened to LR's reviews of the cards in Avacyn Restored, neither one of those cards were worth the first pick.  So what did I take?  Gryff Vanguard.  A 3/2 Flyer for 5 that draws me a card seemed to be the most solid card out of the pack (and it helped that blue is the color I know best).  I won't go into every pick, but I wanted to highlight the first pick because those considerations I made were only made because I learned to evaluate cards more from LR.

The play itself was kind of rough though.  My deck was able to stall out (5 Butchers and blink/bounce effects can get VERY annoying), but this ended up being my major downfall.  Round 1, I get matched with the guy who drafted Craterhoof Behemoth.  Long, drown out games are NOT what you want to be playing against that thing.  It didn't end well.  Round 2, we ended up going to time because neither one of us had the bombs to really finish out a match.  There was a notable game in it though where my opponent had me down to 5-ish life while he was at 20, but thanks to my Butcher Ghouls, Nephalia Smuggler, and Mist Raven, I was able to stabilize and come back for the win, sending it to game 3.  I had a strong start, but we went to rounds halfway through the game.  Again, long drawn out matches are not a good thing.  Round 3 (of 3), I had the bye >.<

So it overall was not a great outcome, but I felt my deck was stronger than any other deck I had drafted before (besides my first draft, which I just lucked out and went 3-0 with) thanks to learning better card evaluation and play skills from LR.  I cannot wait to draft again and keep clawing my way up.

1) The Mana Pool (@TheManaPool)

I don't think there was any doubt which would be my number 1 podcast after my small rant in the previous post.  These are the dorks that started me off with M:tG podcasts.  Hell, I am listening to their most recent episode right now, as I type this.  I said it once, I will say it again: if you play for the sheer enjoyment of playing, LISTEN TO THE MANA POOL!  You will NOT regret it.

They, like the ACS, focus on casual multi-player, but I feel they go far beyond what ACS did.  From the live episodes where they play actual games for our amusement to the episodes where they preview the cards from the coming set, they show just how much fun each card can be.  They have covered so many different areas of the game, including the story, the mechanics, and even the play styles (psychographies) of the game.  I will not lie and say that my current obsession with the game is not in part thanks to them.

Ok, so now you know my top three favorite podcasts.  They are great for while you are working or while deck building.  They give great insight into the game and make it all the more enjoyable.  All three are worth checking out, but be warned:  you WILL be hooked once you start ;)

Ok? Then download, play, and repeat.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

[JT] Blender 2: Electric boo- NO! I will not make that joke...

I'm finally back.  Figured I would do catch up in a new Blender rather than just doing some new series or something.  So... plugged in?  Let's pulsate (that sounded less odd in my head)...

Pulse 1) Me

Ok.  A little bit of get-to-know me as to why I've been M.I.A. When I started this, I was able to crank out post after post for the first week, and then I came to a screeching halt, right?  Well, there was a reason.  Here's the thing:  for the past year, I've been enrolled in a chemistry Ph.D. program... and it has made my life a living hell!  So, I quit.  Yup.  I quit a doctorate program.  I was on cloud nine from sheer relief of not having to worry about doing all this research that was expected of me that I really was not interested in when I started this.  Since then I've hit a small lull, especially with finalizing all of my withdrawal things and finishing out my Teaching Assistantship contract for the year.

That's only part of it though.  A large portion of it is that I am just really lazy XD But I really love this blog, and I am catching my second wind.  I really want to make this a success, so I will be more diligent from now on and make sure to get more posts out in a timely manner.

Pulse 2) MagicMagicMagic

In case you haven't been able to tell from my previous post, I am obsessed with Magic: the Gathering (the level of my obsession will become apparent in the final pulse).  So, in the time that i should have been writing up new posts, I have been tweaking more decks and more combos.  A little bit of what I am working on (sort of a teaser for future, more in-depth posts):
  • Mono-Blue Artifacts using Grand Architect [Standard]
  • UW(G?)-Soulbond [Standard]
  • Patron of the Moon (a.k.a. I'm About to Moon the HELL Out of You!) [EDH]
  • Doran, the  Kitty Tower [EDH deck for a friend]
  • Link of the Many [EDH based off of The Legend of Zelda]
So obviously I have a lot of Magic in/on my mind.  I am also focusing more on Draft/Sealed/Block play, and just using Standard as something fun to do on the side.

Last post, I mentioned the Limited Resources podcast, and they have become my go to in terms of help with my draft play, but I want to take a small second and mention another podcast: The Mana Pool.  While I will be going a bit more in depth on both these podcasts, as well as other Magic related things, in my next post, I have to mention the Dorks because they are hands down the best podcast around if you are in this game for the most important reason: having fun.  So if you haven't checked them out, do it. ... NOW! ...  I'll wait till you do.
*tick tick tick*
Hilarious, right?  You can thank me later. ,,v. ~_^  But seriously, they are a brilliant group of guys with a genuine love for the game, and they bring plenty to each podcast for players at any level; from noobs to long time players.

Pulse 3) The Future

So, I just want to leave you with a little taste of things that will be coming in the near future now that I have this second wind.
  • Magic on the Mind - More discussion on the podcasts I use/listen to when I need a Magic fix and while I'm deck building.
  • New series - I'll be introducing a new series, which will very likely be kicked off by my very first guest author.  Chainsaws, cheerleaders, and zombies.  That's all you get for now.
  • CGC - I think I want to start talking more in depth about my decks in my Card Game Corner.  I will also be trying out more games to bring to you all.  The next one will probably be the Naruto CCG.
There is one other thing I want to mention about "the future" and my posts.  If you haven't noticed a theme, there will be a LOT of Magic talk.  There is a reason for that: I love the game.  Card games have been the one constant in my life.  I have interests that fluctuate like a sine wave, but card games have been the one thing in my life that have grabbed my interests and never let go.

The reason I brought this up is because while I am rededicating myself to this blog, I have a lot of huge changes coming in my life, and they might wrench me away for awhile.  The biggest of these is I have decided to move to Seattle, WA.  Both because I think the city would be good for me, but also because...  Yes.  Wizards of the Coast is HQ'ed in Renton, WA (20 minutes away from Seattle).  Yes.  I quit school because I am trying to chase my dream of either going pro or working for WotC.  I know it's a long shot, but it's my dream and I'll be DAMNED if I'm not going to chase it.

Ok, I think I revealed enough of my soul to all  of you.  Three pulses again this time around.  Odd.  I thought my brain would be a lot more liquified...