Saturday, April 27, 2013
One of the first things to make me fall
head-over-heels for steampunk was the house of Bruce & Melanie
Rosenbaum, who've since created ModVic
design. The house is a three-story Victorian which the couple
painstakingly remodeled in all ways steampunk, and every year or so it
goes viral again online. Happily, this past week saw the house popping
up all over again, so I get an excuse to revisit some of my favorite
You've probably already seen Bruce's incredible computer desk, since that's their most famous creation:
See lots more photos of the house here, and thanks to all of you who sent in the link!
And since we're talking about my steampunk first loves, here's an older - but still awesome - video from 2009 spotlighting one of my first-ever Maker heroes, Jake Von Slatt:
If you just felt a disturbance in the Force, then I think I may have an explanation:
It's not out 'til July, but you can pre-order the hardcover at that Amazon link up there for less than $12! Suh-WEET! I think I want it just for the cover art. Is that wrong?
Next up, we're getting a double-dose of amazing steampunk decor today, because Sarah M. spotted a steampunk restaurant that's guaranteed to make you swoon. Me, I'm already on the floor.
See more pics over on TecheBlog.
Since I seem to be on an interior design streak today: A few of you have sent me this fantastic roundup of sources for everything you need to make your own caged pendant lights for - get this - less than $11 each! DUDE. We are so doing this. (Just FYI, John, sweetie.)
And finally, I've seen a few different versions of "mounted tentacle" art out there, but this one Rachel C. found is by far the coolest:
Not only is the sculpture creepily realistic, the acrylic "water splash" and rusted porthole hanger are fantastic extra touches. These come in three different sizes and a few other colors as well. I particularly like the blue/green:
Or for a slightly more modern and cartoony style (or at least less slimy), there's also this one:
So fun! And that's officially something I never thought I would say about disembodied tentacles, y'all.
Hope you guys are having a great weekend! As always, please share your steamy creations/finds here in the comments or over on the Epbot Facebook page!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
With all the fangirling I've been doing lately about BioShock: Infinite, I've been getting a fair amount of questions about it. Since most of these (along with my answers) are now buried in the comment section or over on Facebook or Twitter, I figured I'd gather them all together along with my "official" review for anyone else thinking about giving the game a try. (And don't worry; this is a spoiler-free zone!)
If you've read this blog for a while, then you already know I'm not much of a gamer. I have below-average skills and little interest in the vast majority of popular games. The few exceptions include titles like Portal and Portal 2 and more kiddie-ish games like Mini Ninjas.
I watched John play BioShock 2 (Infinite is the third in the BioShock series), but my own attempts to play were disastrous at best - albeit funny in retrospect. :)
So what's different about Infinite?
1) It's gorgeous
3) It combines a compelling story with fighting that's actually fun
I've always preferred games that felt more like interactive story books, and in this, Infinite really shines. The surprising part to me was how immersive even the side stories became - the ones told through the "voxophones," taped recordings you discover hidden throughout the game. I was moved to tears by at least two of these stories, and I've never heard voice acting of this caliber in anything.
It should go without saying that the main storyline with Booker & Elizabeth is also beautiful - so rich and complex that you'll be decompressing and deciphering it all long after the ending credits roll.
I never thought I'd say a shooting game was fun, but here again Infinite surprised me. More on that in a minute, though.
- The music
Yes, really, the music. From an old-timey jazzed-up version of "Tainted Love" to a choral hymn of such haunting beauty that you'll find yourself humming it for days, Infinite has a plethora of musical Easter eggs that I'm still uncovering on my third play-through. (Find the guitar and play it. Trust me.)
Ok, let's get to my top FAQs:
- Do you need to have played the first two BioShocks?
No, Infinite stands on its own perfectly well. There's one small nod to the previous games at the end, but even just knowing those games exist will be enough for you to understand what's happening.
- Can someone who's not great at video games manage, or will it be too hard/frustrating?
Again, easy mode is your friend! To give you an idea of my own skill level: I was able to beat Portal 2 but not Psychonauts. I also can't get more than 1/3 of the way through most Rayman and Jak & Daxter type games. So if I can do it, odds are you can, too.
- Is it worth the money?
Alternatively, I've had a few of you mention you can't afford BioShock right now, so this is less an answer and more a suggestion for those of you in the U.S.: Redbox. Find a kiosk at a grocery store or gas station near you, and you can rent Infinite for $2 a day. Rent it on days when you have several hours to play at a time, and if you're mildly obsessive like me, you'll be done in 5 or 6 days! Even if it takes you longer, $20 for 10 days isn't bad at all. Think of it as an installment payment plan!
A word of caution: One thing I haven't addressed anywhere yet is Infinite's level of violence, which has been labeled "excessive," "extreme," and "insanely ridiculous."
Look, I can't handle violence or gore. I just can't. Shows like Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are WAY beyond my tolerance, as are most cop shows with forensics-style gore. So I was surprised to see reviews blasting Infinite for excessive violence.
Now, I'll be straight with you: the very first fight of the game is pretty dang disturbing. A guy gets his face ground in, followed by either an in-your-face, blood-spurting decapitation, or a graphic neck-snap. Up to that point you've been in this perfect, idyllic world, so that first fight is designed to be extra jarring, and it is.
However, I can tell you that if you choose to shoot your enemies - as opposed to running up and smashing them in the face with your spinning hand claw of death - then the rest of the game is dramatically less graphic. It's all about how close you are and which weapons or vigors you use. Some are more graphic than others, so if that bothers you, focus on using sniper rifles or other long-range weapons. Either way, though, know that it never gets any worse than that first fight. (Although a certain cut-scene with a bunch of ravens gets kind of close. You have been warned.)
To end on a more positive note, I have to share one of my favorite little discoveries in the game so far. This contains a mild spoiler, but I don't believe it's anything vital that the trailers haven't already given away.
Ok, so, during the very first tear you see Elizabeth open, if you look closely (and quickly!) to the right, you'll see a movie theater marquee that reads "Revenge of the Jedi" in French. (Apparently that was the original working title of Return of the Jedi - so this shows the tear opens to an alternate world/time.) A moment later, as you're climbing a nearby stairwell, you hear Booker say, "This job is getting worse all the time," in the exact same inflection Lando Calrissian uses to say, "This deal is getting worse all the time," in Empire Strikes Back. Yep. STAR WARS HOMAGE, baby! (You'll see another movie marquee with the same title in English later on in the game, too, so watch for that!)
Again, there are lots of hidden little treasures like that throughout the game, but I believe that's the only one to reference another geek franchise. That said, you should go play it and see if I'm wrong!
Oh, and if you're a non-gamer looking for more titles to try, here are eight that I recommend.
I hope this review was helpful, guys, and feel free to ask any other questions you might have in the comments, since I'm sure I may have missed something!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
It's that time again! Here's some of the best geek art to cross my path this month:
Max Kostenko is a Russian artist who does digital painting caricatures guaranteed to make you smile:
Sadly I see no purchasing options (although I could have missed something on his blogs) but Kostenko's portrait of Superman taking a nap is just too perfect:
Next up, some amazing 80s pop-culture illustrations by James White:
here, although again, I can't find a way to purchase any prints. BOO. Take our money, artists! TAKE IT! (Found via ProtonCharging)
Oh, and White also did this cover:
Diane L. found this adorable artwork by J Salvador of Super Emo Friends over at WonderCon a few weeks ago:
And THIS one we can buy! YAY! Check Salvador's etsy store for lots more adorably sad geek characters.
Next up, Nicole C. spotted a great Disney/Avengers mash-up: Stitch dressed as Thor and Loki!
By Agnes Garbowska, who does a lot of convention commissions, if you're lucky enough to see her that way, or you can buy a few of her larger prints at her online store. Only $20 for a signed 11X17 like one of these:
Naturally, I had to include something for my new video game obsession this month:
K, moving on from my fangirl ravings...
Andrea O. found this next one by Andrew Hickinbottom. He calls it an "homage to comic conventions, and a tribute to those brave attendees who cosplay in skimpy outfits." Heheh.
Now hold on to your socks, because they're about to be blown off by SHEER CUTENESS:
Santani, another Russian artist with insane skills. I WANT TO HUG IT. And then tickle its feet.
Some of the dolls ride the line between creepy and cute, but usually in a way that's downright hysterical:
Head over to Santani's deviantArt to see lots (and LOTS more), or to contact her about purchasing one. She says in the FAQ that her prices range from $94 to $233 US, which doesn't seem bad at all when you look at all that detail and snuggly squishable wonderfulness. (I want to rig up a shoulder perch/harness for that second one and walk around conventions with him.)
By Abraham Lopez, who says you can e-mail him to purchase prints. Hit the link to see lots more of his fan art in his deviantArt gallery.
UPDATE: The give-away has ended, and the winner is Justy! Congrats, Justy, and please e-mail me your address & choice of prize!
Monday, April 22, 2013
I usually reserve my steampunk finds for Saturdays, but it's rare that I get to debut something this awesome before all the other big sites out there, so you'll have to indulge me:
This is Caroline L.'s engagement present from her fiance, Mark, who made it from a vintage AT-AT toy and is CLEARLY a keeper. Just saying, Caroline. But I guess you already knew that. :)
Hey Caroline, any chance Mark will post a paint tutorial? Because I have a baby AT-AT here on my desk that's just BEGGING for a steampunk make-over now. :D
Watch Mark's Flickr page this week for more photos of the IMP. They're not up as of this writing, but Caroline assures me they'll be there soon. [Warning: there are mildly gory special-affects makeup pics on that stream, so don't click if you're squeamish.]
[UPDATE: Direct link to those photos here!]
Thanks for sharing the awesomeness, Caroline!
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