Thursday, August 30, 2012

[JT] Casual Daze: Jas and I go to the movies [The Apparition and Paranorman]

Casual Frida---wait it's not Friday...

Hey, everyone.  JT here.  If you follow my twitter, you know that me and Jas went to the movies yesterday, and we figured we would do a quick little post about the day.   Then we figured we could make this a semi-regular thing.  So welcome to Casual Daze...

We decided to double feature The Apparition and Paranorman since one of us was more excited for one while the other was more excited for the other.

We got down to the theater, got our tickets to The Apparition, and soon realized we really need to coordinate times better because we had an hour and a half to kill before the movie started.  So we decided to walk around, heading down to Target to get candy for the movie, since... well... you know... movie theater food is freaking expensive! 

And of course, Jas brought her cam.  So...

Yeah... So all that happened and was said... If you are still reading this, I applaud you for getting through our ridiculousness.  As a small prize, I guess I will give my own brief review of the two movies.

The Apparition

Really, all I can really say about this movie is I've seen episodes of Supernatural that were better than this movie.  It does give you a creepy vibe from the very start, which is a plus, but ultimately it's just a let down.  You see that tagline in the movie poster at the top of the page?  The concept does not show up at all in the movie.

Sadly, my initial prediction that it was a dementor and that we get to see Malfoy's patronum turned out to be wrong :/  Shame, too.  That little twist might have saved the movie.


It was a decent movie with some pretty go-  Oh who am I kidding! GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!  It was completely brilliant and a lot creepier than you would expect going into it.  There were also plenty of jokes for the older generations; like allusions to classic horror movies and jokes that if kids laugh at them, you would look at them weird.

I will put it this way, we spent a total of $12.50 each for tickets to both (which by itself was a good deal), but I would have spent all $12.50 in a heartbeat to see Paranorman alone.

So that was our day at the movies.  As you can tell, these entries will be pretty brief, and probably told through pictures.   Nothing groundbreaking.  Just relaxed recounts of our misadventures.  So, see you next time we find ourselves in a Casual Daze.


Friday, August 24, 2012

[JT] CGC: Eroding Metal - Budget UW Tempered Steel Deck Discuss

I.  HATE.  Delver of Secrets.  The card is done to death and back in every format that he is legal.  I understand that he is powerful.  Hell!  He even fits in with a play style I really like (hit early and then control the tempo from then on out).  I even have a build in mind with him in it that I wouldn't mind trying out.  However, when it comes right down to it, I just don't think he is fun to play; so I don't!  I prefer limited play, so when I play standard, it's for fun.  If the deck isn't fun, I won't play it.  Two weeks ago I was scrambling to build a standard deck since I didn't know what format FNM would be, and ended up with a UW Delver build that I was just dreading (imagine how happy I was when I found it it was draft week).  I knew I needed to come up with something new to use; which brings me to this week's deck: UW Tempered Steel.

I had a mono-U Grand Architect build that I used a few weeks ago that was honestly one of the most fun decks I had ever piloted.  Why I dismantled it I have no idea.  For the second go around I decided to add in some W and Tempered Steel.  Here is the build I took to FNM tonight:

Creatures (21): 
Treasure Mage x2 
Spined Thopter x4 
Porcelain Legionnaire x3 
Grand Architect x4 
Etched Champion x4  
Steel Hellkite x2 
Myr Battlesphere x2

Planeswalker (2): 

Venser, the Sojourner x2

Spells (15): 

Vapor Snag x4 
Dispatch x4 
Tempered Steel x4 
Blue Sun's Zenith x2 
Unwinding Clock x1

Lands (22): 

Seachrome Coast x4 
Glacial Fortress x4 
Buried Ruin x3
Island x11

Side (15):  

Stoic Rebuttal x2 
Oblivion Ring x2 
Flashfreeze x2 
Celestial Purge x2 
Sword of Body and Mind
Redirect x2 
Staff of Nin x2 
Tormod's Crypt x2

As the title of this post suggest, it is a budget build.  Since I only play standard for fun, I don't want to dump a lot of money into high priced cards.  If I can get my hands on them through trading, then sure; I will use it, but I will not go out of my way for them.  That's why there are no Wurmcoil Engines or Swords besides the BaM in the side (although having three Etched Champions on the field, each with a different sword, sounds SO bad ass when I imagine the image).

One of the things I love about this deck is it utilizes my favorite planeswalker, Venser, for a few shenanigans with Treasure Mage and Myr Battlesphere.  This is a very big point for me when it comes to play this deck.  With rotation coming up soon, this is the last time I will get to use these cards in standard.  I'm 99% sure this will be my deck until rotation.  I just love it that much, but how did it perform?

IT GOT DESTROYED!!!! XD  Haha.  In round 1, I made a few misplays and ended up losing to a 5-color re-animator.   Round 2 I faced Wolf Run Ramp and just could not get out my acceleration before he did.  Round 3 I had the bye, and round 4 I just got overwhelmed by BR Vamps.  Obviously I am going back to the drawing board on this one.

Here are my thoughts going into the adjustments...

1)  I might remove the Tempered Steel's all together.  This will free up room for a few other artifacts.  Perhaps a few Phyrexian Metamoph's if I can get a hold of them.  I might try and keep the W in the deck without the Steel's anyway for Venser and Dispatch.

-4 Tempered Steel
+2 Phyrexian Metamoprh
+2 Oblivion Ring

maybe?  This also allows for more Venser shenaniganery, and honestly, who doesn't like that?

2) The Blue Sun's Zenith's do not feel like enough draw power by themselves.  I will be trying to get up to four copies of Riddlesmith into the deck.  They were there in the mono-U version, and you can just rifle through your deck with it.  The Buried Ruins help get back any artifacts you loot away as well.

3) I have NO turn 1 play.  Vedalken Certarch or Spellbombs would change this.  The Certarch helps with the Grand Architect as well.  Turn 3 Steel Hellkite sounds DELICIOUS!  Memnite's would also help this as well.

There are other things, but those are the first three points I want to tackle.

So there you have it.  This was my Tempered Steel version 1.0.  Once I make changes and get another chance to test it, I will bring you another CGC with version 2.0.  I think I am going to make this a little project and see just how far I can bring this deck before it rotates out.  Naturally I'll bring you guys along for the ride.  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and suggestions.  Nothing gets me more amped up than having really good discussions about decks, so please, give me every critique and criticism you have on this.

Now if you'll excuse me,  I need to go and work on adapting this into an EDH deck as well...

...What's that you say?  How can I make this into an EDH deck without a legendary creature (without using Hanna, Ship's Navigator)?  Well I am not going to tell you, but I will say to watch out later this week for a new project I am tackling for the CGC where I can turn this Tempered Steel deck into an EDH deck.  I'll give you a little hint how this is possible though...

*All card arts from Gatherer.

(Want to know more about me, or maybe the rest of the NerdPop authors?  Then check out our bios here.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Group Therapy: The first one is always free...

[JT's intro:] Today we are going to dive deep into the subconsciousness of each of NerdPop's authors; trying to find that first exposure that triggered our nerdom.  If you recall, our last GT was done entirely by me, but I told you (ok, more like warned you) that GT's from now on will be done with each author writing their own part.  Sooo... chaos basically...

We will be focusing specifically on our first exposures to anime and/or manga this week.  What was it that tainted us so many years ago that we now spend our time watching series in a language we don't know while reading the translations (Reading while watching T.V.?!  Unheard of!!!!)?  Let's take a seat on the giant leather couch, relax, and go back... way back... and see if we can find out, shall we?

Walmart. Where everyone expects his/her/the cats obsessionwith anime/manga to start. Right? Nope. But that’s pretty much where mine started. Whoa, Jas, you are crazy. Nope, (yes) I’m not! So, how did I become an otaku from Wal-mart? [JT's note: Yes.  She just had an entire self-depreciating conversation with herself...] Let me paint you a picture:  Lanky middle school girl walks down the magazine isle and sees a discount book rack, on said rack is one lonely manga. Whoa, is that CardCaptor Sakura? I haven’t seen that show since Elementary school! That was agood show, I miss it…..I should buy this thing even though I don’t really getwhat it is.
Sakura and Kero.  Pic from the interweb

Omg I need them all. This is book 6. I need 1 through 5.STAT! SOMEONE TAKE ME TO BARNES AND NOBLE RIGHT NOW!

Whoa, this looks cute. The girl wearing some cute pinkthing and she has cat ears! Oh and this looks cute.

500 mangas later….here I am, signed, sealed, deliveredfrom Amazon I’M YOURS!

Tokyo Mew Mew.  Again, credit the interwebs.
But really. That’s how everything started, volume 6 of Card Captor Sakura’s manga on a discount shelf at the local Wal-mart. Fromthere it was Tokyo Mew Mew and then, well, everything becomes a nearly debt-inducing blur. Though, I had one major problem. I had NO friends at the timethat liked anime, so I was completely alone on my conquest to buy out theentire manga section at Borders.

I didn’t get friends who liked anime until Sophomore yearof high school (which seems like ages ago now) and that was when everythingREALLY took off. Conventions and the like dug me into a deeper hole that isotaku. And now here I am, with too many manga to count, not that many animeDVDs, but with an apartment full of wigs and figures.
No, Jas.  You are not showing people your first hentai...

I miss the good old days of coming home and watching CCS,Sailor Moon, DBZ, Runion Kenshin, Gundman, and the like. When not many showswere on TV I turned to my local movie rental stores…where I happened to stumbleupon my first few hentai DVDs. (in high school) Oh man, those were to good olddays…

I, like many girls in the 90’s, watched Sailor Moon on occasion. Technically that was my first experience with anime, but I don’t really count that because I had no idea what I was watching and I didn’t nerd out over it (I had friends that did, but I was too busy nerding out over Animorphs [JT's note: mmmmmmmm... Tobias...  I mean... Rachel!  Yeah... Rachel... >.>  <.<  >.>]).

In highschool I had a Japanese friend who introduced me to Manga in my junior year, and it all went downhill from there. She would give me 3 books at the beginning of the day and I would give them back before we went home and ask for more. I swear it was like crack , I could not get enough. When she discovered that I did not watch anime she took it upon herself to change that.

About a week later she brought me three series on DVD that she thought would interest me. The first was Fruits Basket.  I had already devoured in manga form, and it was an instant hit, but I already knew I would enjoy it. I was much less certain about the others.

Jessica decided I should watch Read or Die simply because the main character reminded her of me….  This Anime has a very nerdy female lead who uses paper as a weapon. Really?! This is really a bad anime, I don’t recommend it, but I am still amazed that she owned an anime featuring a paper wielding bookworm heroine.

The third series was the only that I watched in its entirety. It is a very old school magic girl anime with two seasons that I absolutely DEVOUERED in less than 48 hours. I literally shut myself in the bonus room and watched this series all weekend; I barely ate, I didn’t shower, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t do any homework. My family was slightly worried. The source of this obsession? Magic Knight Rayearth. It remains one of my favorites to this day, and It also happens to be a CLAMP production and so brought on much squee-ing over Mokona. 

[JT's note: Yes... she finally wrote something... -_-]
Inner and Outer Senshi. 
My first anime, you ask? Oh boy, now that’s something I haven’t thought about in a while. I would have to say Sailor Moon was my very first anime, although I didn’t know what anime even was at that time. But I remember I loved that art style so much and I wanted to find more shows like it. It wasn’t till I was in 7th grade that I discovered what anime really was. I met a girl that was very much into anime and manga and she let me borrow her favorite ones like Marmalade Boy, Chobits, and Inuyasha. From there on out I was hooked and began finding new series on my own that tickled my fancy, after growing bored with all the ones Toonami and Adult Swim were playing. In my search I discovered manhwa, which are Korean manga, and also cosplay. The idea of dressing in some of the cute outfits my favorite characters wore seemed so inviting, I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would have on me later in life though!

I tried going as far back as I can remember, and came to one conclusion:  I have a confusing past.  When I tried to recall my very first anime, I realized (like I am sure most, if not all, of my cohorts realized) that I did not realize my first anime was my first anime until way after I had gotten over the show.  My mind naturally jumped to Dragonball Z or Pokemon, which would be a natural thought considering they is the gateway drugs (wow... I might be taking this whole mind-altering-substance metaphor a little far) to a majority of the otaku population here in the U.S..  I mean, it's not like there was any other Japanese series that made a splash stateside before DBZ, right?

Voltron. Pic from ... well... you can see

Ehhhhhhhhhh...  Here is where the lines began to blur for me when I was delving into my own mind (it's a scary place in here, let me tell you).  There were two series that aired before DBZ (since they were all re-runs, do not ask me which one came first in my memory.  I have NO idea) ever peeked my interest: Voltron and Speed Racer.

Speed in front of the Mach 5.  Pic from a fan site and the OP

"What???  Those aren't anime!" That just passed through your head, didn't it?  Let me assure you, they are indeed anime.  Voltron was made using clips of Beast King Golion while Speed Racer is from Mach Go Go Go ("Go" is five in Japanese.  Eh?  Eh? ;)).  I used to adore these two series, still do in fact.  I'm not sure what drew me to them.  Perhaps it was the art style, or the constant action (which, if you go back now, you will realize is all stock footage).  Whatever it was, these two tainted me looooong before DBZ ever did. A few years later and I find myself transfixed by TOM and the Absolution on Toonami, my godsend at the time.  

After that, the rest was history...

OK,  We've made a lot of progress here today.  We are beginning to see why we are all such freaking NERDS! ...  Isn't it wonderful?  Unfortunately our time is up for this session.  In the mean time, we would LOVE to hear from all of you readers out there what your first exposure to anime was!  Leave a comment and tell us!

Watch two episodes, and call me in the morning...

(Want to know more about us?  Check out our profiles here.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

[Jas] And then my family pretended I wasn't related to them....

Credit a million photographers here....Knight Photography (victoria [JT's note: who's Victoria? ;)]), James Wu, Katsuya Weller, Skwinkography, Gerardo Flores, and other friends

In other words, how I got into cosplay! Since I'll be talking randomly about costumes later on, I feel as though an intro would be appealing to those who might not know much about the sport [JT's note: ...  leave it alone everyone...]! Yes! This is a topic I really enjoy talking about because my sorta therapist tells me that I have an obbession with being anyone who isn’t me (actually that’s a lie, I don’t have a therapist, but if I did that’s what he/she would most obviously tell me). So as I sit here with my chef Boyardee and collection of CCS dvds I recently gathered from the four corners of, I shall venture into my past….

So it all started in 3rd grade when I wanted to be Pikachu for Halloween….

(There is photo proof of this....somewhere in my parents house....I will find it)

Though.....that’s a lie [JT's note: she lies a lot], because honestly I had no idea what cosplay was at that point. I was in 3rd grade in a small town where the fanciest restaurant was Olive Garden and I had no neighbors. So all I really had was the internet (but I didn’t get that until middle school so really all I had were trees and wild animals). I started getting into cosplay before I even knew what it was. I was in middle school, 7th grade, when I started a word document of characters I wanted to dress up as (I recently found this document and laughed myself a six pack, that’s a lie as well [JT's note: See?], but I did laugh so hard I almost choked to death). So that’s when I first though about it. But at that point I could only really sew a pillow case.

Moon faced bunny weapon Mina costume
The REAL start to my cosplay was freshman year of high school when I met up with an old friend (we legit both forgot about each other until we hardcore bonded and now we are married. Not really. But we act like an old married couple [JT's note: That wasn't a lie for once].) So anyways, we bonded in last period science class, where we doodled all class and we were pretty much just obnoxious brats [JT's note: Still are...]. So, then we planned it, our first convention (Anime Punch, OH 2007). Our first cosplays. And let me tell you something….they SUCKED! We had no idea WHAT we were doing. We were young (15/16), new to the whole culture, and legit had NO idea what we were getting into. (Meaning we didn’t wear wigs or colored contacts) This was BEFORE my mother hated it. She helped with the sewing and was pretty into it. Then we got there......

Now they all pretend that I’m not related to them. The end. 

But not really.

After I accidently dyed my hair salmon pink in an unfortunate I-don’t-have-a-wig-but-maybe-I-can-temporarily-dye-my-hair-pink accident involving a hot tub and me wearing pink shirts from forever onward until it totally washed out like 2 months later, we took a short break from cosplay to plan and such (not to mention my parents were totally against it after going to a con themselves…they are beyond conservative). Our second convention was in Indiana, Ikasucon (2009). It was fun but we still didn’t have wigs or the best costumes (in fact they still sucked pretty hard) and not to mention my parents were not thrilled. Well, to say the least, that was the last convention they both attended. Also, after that con was when we both REALLY got serious.

And 6 years, 25+ costumes, 10+ conventions, and lots of photos/experience later. Here I am! It’s been a lot of work, and honestly I never pictured myself as a cosplayer before, but now I don’t think I could see myself without it [JTs note: Not just her seeing herself... sometimes I forget what her actual hair style is because of all the wigs and pictures.]. So, for anyone who has ever looked at cosplay, but was too scared to try it, I want to talk a little about how we do:
Knight Photography (Victoria)

America gets a bad rap because our cosplayers aren’t as “good”, “serious”, or “intense” as other countries. But our convention culture is one of the closest knit ones out there. Don’t be afraid to try and fail the first time, or few times for that matter, we did (when I say "we" I'm talking Sarah and I, because actually we are one person, in case you weren't aware). You don’t become FANTASTIC overnight. Especially if you sew your costumes yourself. C'mon, I've been doing this for 6 years, I would know. 
Photo by the lovely Victoria (Knight Photography)

That’s another thing: I know it’s easy to buy costumes online, but it’s 100x more fulfilling to sew something yourself. To wear something you made is just such a great feeling, it’s hard to describe. What really matters about cosplay is your friends though. There will always be haters, people who think they are better than you and feel the need to say it, and others who don’t understand and put you down. But, there are fans who love the character you are cosplaying and get super excited when they see you and it’s easy to make new friends.

IN THE NAME OF THE MOooon, we will punish you....Yu-Gi-Yu-Gi--Oh?
I’ve never really tried to stand out too much in the cosplay world. It can be intimidating…especially when everyone I know always wants me to sew something for them (actually that gets more annoying than everything…I don’t want to sew your pants together, when you could learn to do it yourself instead of pestering the only girl you know who knows how to sew. No I don’t know how to sew together a broken book bag….my sewing machine is from the 70s for pete’s sake. I’m surprised it’s still running actually).

ANYWAYS! Look forward to more about the cosplay world from me, from sewing, costume design, photography, wig styling, make-up, and prop making! A lot goes into cosplay, not just sewing pieces of fabric together!!! (Though that’s all I thought it was at first too)

Herp a Derp and no, we are not twins in real life....

Cosplay really opened me up to the world, and to long-distance driving (but that’s a story for another day).
Before we drive
After we drive (LOL JK) this was totes from a shoot 

What to know something specific? Post a comment and I’ll talk all about whatever you want to know in a post! I love talking about cosplay!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

[Caitlin] Fangirling: Doctor Who is Coming Back!!!

Fangirling will be a new series of mine in which I will reveal the true extent of my nerdiness by fangirling over anything and everything that makes me fangirl. So here it goes:

[JT's note:  If I've learned anything from my time with Caitlin, it's this: you do NOT get between her and her fangirl fodder *shudders*]

The new trailer for Doctor Who Series 7 is here!!

I can not get over how epic this trailer is! As far as I know it features images from all episodes of the first half of the season, and it certainly looks promising. I mean dinosaurs on a spaceship?! It doesn't get more epic than that!! And the Daleks; How many times have they been killed off or been trapped in the time vortex only to come back and wreak havoc on the universe? They are the oldest and deadliest of the Doctor Who monsters, and they are like the cockroaches of the future. The first episode of the new season is called "Asylum of the Daleks," and as much as I hate how many times they come back from oblivion, there could be no more fitting a premier.

Amy's comment about what happens when the Doctor travels alone for too long makes me think that a great deal of time might have elapsed since we last saw the him; maybe not for the Ponds, but definitely for the Doctor (isn't time travel confusing?).

And OMG a baby Weeping Angel?! What is the Whoverse coming to?! The Weeping Angels already terrify me, and they have to compound that with my severe dislike of creepy children?! Not cool, Moffat, not cool. [SPOILERS] It also doesn't help that I know that the episode with the Angels is that last episode before the Christmas Special and also happens to be the Ponds' last episode. :'( [/SPOILERS]

That final line just killed me! "Who killed all the Daleks?" "Who do you think?" AAAAAAH! *chills* *dies* It is sooo perfect!

The only thing missing from this trailer is the PREMIER DATE! We learned during Comic-Con that Who was returning in August.... Well, its August... Where is my premier date?!?!