Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday Steam 6/8/13

Let's start with this week's most popular steamy snippet:

Awww yeeeeeah.

Now, I'm not saying the alcohol is what makes this handcrafted, wood-and-brass AT-AT by Colin Rhino so appealing, but I don't think I'm the only one imagining whistling the Imperial March to get it to deliver couch-side. JUST SAYING.

Seriously, though, would you LOOK at this detail??
Stunning. It really is fit for an emperor!

- I think I posted one of Andrea Masse-Tognetti's airship ornaments last Christmas, but Allison P. just linked me to this one, Andrea's third, and it's even more impressive than her first two!

Check out the tiny bead "lanterns", and the brass angel figurehead!

"Airship Three Hanging Sculpture," $255 by Merimask

While the hull may look like carved wood, it's actually sculpted leather. (The interior floor and cabin are balsa wood, though.) Some of you may recall that Andrea - better known as Merimask - is most famous for her leather masks, so these little ships are just a side hobby for her. I really hope she makes more, though; they're fantastic in every sense of the word.

- Some of you might recall many eons ago (ie about two years) when I reviewed the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and then linked to the astounding - and very real - automaton that inspired the book (and later the movie, Hugo.) The source I found for the automaton wasn't great, though, and the video of it in action was just so-so.

That's why I was delighted this week when my friend Steampunk Boba Fett posted a video feature CBS did on the Maillardet Automaton last year, plus a few other fascinating examples. I'm not sure how I missed this when they first released it, but better late than never, right? Check it out:

If this doesn't get you excited about history, lost knowledge, and old stuff in general, I'm not sure WHAT will. (I've come to love almost any kind of mechanical antiques: forget the doilies and glassware, and lead me to the old hardware, tools, and glorious, rusty "junk!" Ha!)

- This is going to sound pathetic, but John and I have never gotten into table top gaming mostly due to a lack of friends to play them with. (Pathetic, right?) However, if you're into complex strategy board games - and have friends who are, too -  you might be interested in the soon-to-be-released Planet Steam:

Per the maker's website: "In Planet Steam, two to five players take the roles of entrepreneurs, racing to assemble equipment, claim plots of land, extract resources, and accumulate riches."

It looks crazy complicated, but I love this slider-gauge "Resource Terminal" thingie:

There's a two-part strategy guide/review here, plus another picture of the full board, so check that out to learn more. (And thanks to Elizabeth E. for the tip!)

- And finally, Vivienne V. found this sweet octopus lamp by mixed-media artist Karl Dupere Richer:

It's made from found objects like garden hoses, Christmas ornaments, a candy dish, and a "suspended globe."

When I went to grab the link to Karl's site, I found he makes all KINDS of colorful, whimsical lamp creations:

Plus mechanical-assemblage faces like this:

Most of them are oddly endearing, like this guy:

 Head over to Richer's portfolio to see lots more. (Note that the site is in French, I believe, so you may want to have Chrome translate it for you.)

As always, please share your own steamy finds in the comments or over on the Epbot Facebook page - and have a happy Saturday, everyone! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Week's Best 6/7/13

I'm sure you've all seen this by now, but just in case:


Lauren, the girl responsible for this work of genius, actually has an entire blog dedicated to the  design process, and it's well worth a visit. So many fantastic details! (And isn't that Chell art gorgeous?)

Here it is with the lights off:

My favorite is Lauren's set of made-from-scratch infinity Portal mirrors:

DO WANT. Sounds like they were a pain and a half to make, but wow. Looks like they were worth it!

 For my fellow Ghostbuster geeks, check out the Ghostbusters ride that never was:

Hit that link and scroll about halfway down the page for tons of amazing photos, mock-ups, and art.

Reminds me of the MIB ride at Universal, only spookier.

Oh, and a commenter mentioned this ride is very similar to Ghost Blasters, a ride that still exists in several amusement parks around the US and Canada. Any of you know it?

- Would you believe this gorgeous wolf sculpture is made entirely of pipe cleaners?

Yep, you read that right: Lauren Ryan makes her sculptures out of 100% chenille stems (aka pipe cleaners). I can't get over how perfect that face is!

I'm also partial to her Fennec Fox:

Head over to Lauren's blog, Chenille Stems, to see lots more. (And thanks to Miranda A. for the link!)

- Frank of Post Secret tweeted one of the most inspirational things I've seen all week: Duct Tape Surfing. It's kind of like what John did for our friend Ken, only way, WAY harder. Hehehe.

Confused? Just watch:

Pascale (the woman) is a paraplegic, and is the mother of one of Tyrone's friends. The two have a Facebook page where they post pics and links to interviews and such, since they're starting to get lots of media coverage now. You can also donate duct tape there!

And while we're talking feel-good stories, have you heard about the Brazilian hospital that re-themed its children's cancer treatments into "superhero formulas?"

Not only do the kids get these special cases for their IV treatments, they also get custom comics - officially licensed from Warner Brothers - that show each superhero getting the "super formula" treatment using those exact same cases:

Plus the entire children's cancer ward there (located at A.C. Camargo Cancer Center in São Paulo) has been themed into the Hall of Justice! Head over to NerdApproved to see more pictures and video of the ward. (And in related news: are you totally crying right now, or is that just me? GAH.)

- While we're talking superheros, Target is really pulling out all the stops with their new Avengers line. Check out this fun LED Thor hammer night light:

It's battery powered, so you just stick it to the wall - easy-peasy. There's also a Hulk fist version and this Captain America shield:

SO COOL. $26.99 at Target's website, or I'm sure you can find them in local stores, too.

And finally, I've had several of you ask me before if I "Disney Bound." I never have, but after seeing this roundup of 39 examples over on BuzzFeed, I am seriously tempted! In a nutshell, Disney Bounding is like the world's most subtle form of cosplay: you dress in everyday clothes that still manage to evoke your favorite Disney character. Here are a few examples:

Daisy & Donald!
(I'm in love with Daisy's tights and shoes. IN LOVE, I say!)

The Disney Bound Tumblr mostly posts outfit inspirations, but there are also plenty of pics like these, with Bounders sending in photos of themselves - often with the characters they're dressed as! In fact, I met a reader out at DHS last week wearing the most PERFECT Perry-the-Platypus outfit. Here's Elizabeth (check out her orange converse!) with her sisters Taylor (as Phineas) and Kelsey (as Ferb):

 So fun!

Hope these made you smile! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Netflix Shows To Watch: Nikita

Since John and I don't have cable, most of what we watch is on Netflix - supplemented by occasional online shows and Redbox. We tend to binge on series we like, though, which means I'm always on the look out for new shows.

So several months back I decided to try one that kept coming up in my recommended queue: Nikita.

The only thing I knew going in was that my older brother liked the original version (this one is a remake), which I think was in French, and which he described as a femme fatale spy/action/thriller kind of deal.

(In a nutshell, Nikita is a former secret agent for a corrupt "black ops" division of the U.S. government. She escaped, and is now working to bring that organization down.)

I was afraid the show was going to be all busty bubbleheads prancing around in G-strings and gun harnesses  - and frankly some of the promotional photos kind of reinforce that impression - but I'm happy to report that Nikita has SO much more depth than that - and nary a G-string in site. In fact, after watching the first two seasons and now starting on the third, I'm not sure I can say enough good things about this show - but I'm about to try. :)

First and foremost, I love Nikita for the characters. The writers could have made Nikita just another revenge-driven bombshell, but instead they fleshed out a woman who is driven not so much by revenge as by a strong sense of justice and concern for others. She cares. She cries. And - oh yes - she kicks some SERIOUS booty. If you were a fan of Alias back in the day - particularly in the first few seasons when it was still amazing - then you're pretty much guaranteed to love this show. (And can I just say how much I love it that Nikita wears realistic footwear on missions? And when she DOES wear heels, she'll kick them off to run? [Yeah, I'm looking at you, Kate Beckett on Castle.])

Nikita is the main focus of the show, of course, but in the first season she also has a younger female partner, Alex. (Pictured above.) Again, the character writing here goes above and beyond, as these two women start out with almost a mother/daughter dynamic, but then grow to respect each other more and more as equals. Plus all the women on this show (of which there are several key players) consistently pass the Bechdel test with flying colors.

The third main character is Micheal:

He works for the bad guys, and first trained Nikita years ago. Now that she's "gone rogue," he's also the one in charge of hunting her down - despite the fact that he may have feelings for her.

The romantic tension is handled really well, as they lead a merry dance of cat-and-mouse without ever getting too heavy-handed. Back stories are woven in to explain Micheal's choices, and before you know it you're rooting for both of them.

In addition to its brilliant, believable characters, I love that Nikita respects our intelligence as viewers. For example, you know all those times when you're yelling at Primeval because - once again - the characters have done something so mind-bogglingly stupid that there's no way they could have gotten their pants on properly that morning, much less operate heavy machinery?* That never happens with Nikita. And the two or three times I *thought* it was happening, it turned out that the characters and writers were way ahead of me all along, planning a double-cross or a fake-out that soon had me cheering.

[*As you may have guessed, we're still watching Privemal. Can't they just give Lester & Connor their own show and be done with it?]

In season two the show keeps all the same characters, but everything about the story changes drastically - to the point that for the first few episodes I thought Nikita had jumped the shark and was a lost cause. (Plus Alex gets really, REALLY annoying.) Stick with it, though, because after a while Nikita hits its stride again, and the last half of season two is so perfect it actually surpasses the first. (John and I marathoned most of it over the course of a week, as we couldn't wait to find out what happened next!)

In season two many of the minor characters take on a larger role, so that Nikita becomes less just Nikita and more of an ensemble cast. I found I liked nearly all of them, though - especially Birkhoff - so rather than messing with a good thing, this actually just made the show that much better. They also started introducing more humor to the show, so you get some good laughs mixed in with all the non-stop action.

The long-suffering, ever snarky, often hilarious, and eventually awesome Seymour Birkhoff.

In season three the show once again re-invents itself, as Nikita's mission changes yet again. It's neat to see completely new story arcs introduced each season, though, instead of just re-hashing the same old "revenge" plot lines.

Nikita obviously has plenty of violence and killing, plus some torture scenes that get pretty intense, but nothing worse than your average network TV action/thriller. Ditto for language and sex scenes, although there are surprisingly few of those. It's heavier than, say, White Collar (another show I love), but since the good guys almost always win, it's still very much a feel-good kind of show. (Although it has made me cry a few times.)

Netflix only has the first two seasons of Nikita available for online streaming right now, so I've only seen a few episodes of season three so far. (You can buy them individually on iTunes, but at $3 a pop it really adds up!) The season finale of Season 3 just aired about two weeks ago, though, so I'm hoping Netflix gets it soon.

Oh, and I also just learned that there will be a fourth and final season of Nikita, but with only 6 episodes. Kind of a shame, but here's hoping that allows the writers to wrap the storyline up neatly.

So, to sum up, if you like shows with plenty of action, great writing, and strong female characters who seriously kick butt, give Nikita a try! And most importantly, don't tell me what happens in season three yet. I have to catch up!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Epbot Exemplars 6/4/13

Exemplars are geeks who know what they love, and show it with pride. I keep it mostly girl-centric here at Epbot, but I always reserve the right to feature anyone who helps inspire me to be a better me.

Ruth M. recently shared this photo of 2 of her daughters from last Halloween:

Aaaand I just collapsed from the cute. Gimmie a minute.

Here's 7-year-old Allie dressed up for last month's May the 4th:

Oooh, are those blue fiber optics I spy in your tutu, Allie? SHINY.

Oh, and for Free Comic Book Day Allie picked - of course - a Star Wars comic, and her mom Maxine snapped this shot later at home:

 Now this right here makes me happier than all the tutus and Vader masks in the world. READ ON, young Padawan!

Speaking of reading, when 10-year-old Emma's school celebrated Book Week, she decided to dress as Queen Susan from the Narnia series:

LOVE. She and her mom put the costume together from Salvation Army finds, and the bow & arrow are made from water pipes!

Emma's mom, Jane, tells me Emma is also a geology buff - "a real rockhound/ lapidarist" - who spends her birthday money on rocks and gems. So in keeping with that theme she dressed as an Enderman from Minecraft for her "school disco" - which I suspect must be an Australian thing. :)

Rock on, Emma! 
(Hey, painful puns are the best puns.)

And finally, this is AnnaMay:

AnnaMay is 7, and as you can see, she loves superheroes - specifically Wonder Woman and Super Girl. Trouble is, another girl at Anna May's school has been making fun of her for it, to the point that Anna May won't wear her favorite t-shirts (like this one!) anymore.

AnnaMay's mom, Andrea, writes,

"It's not as bad compared to some, but she has generalized anxiety disorder and sensory processing disorder so to her it is HUGE. She is afraid of so much in this world, and I know that the super hero things made her feel a little bit more powerful, and now that has been taken from her, too."

When Andrea mentioned this on a Disney forum she follows, someone there sent her here to Epbot. She wrote to me almost immediately after just to say thanks, but John quickly asked if we could feature AnnaMay. He also asked for a picture, which I'm happy to say is what convinced this little Wonder Girl to put on one of her favorite outfits again, just for us: 


AnnaMay, I know it's not always easy, but I hope you'll keep wearing those t-shirts. After all, geeky shirts are my favorite way to meet new friends! And the next time someone makes fun of you for them, just remember: you've got your very own fan club, right here - and we all love superheroes, too.

Btw, is anyone else DYING to see AnnaMay in a superhero costume now? Whaddaya think, Anna May? Would you rather be Wonder Woman or Super Girl? Let me know, and we'll see what we can make happen by this Halloween and/or your next local convention. (I may not know much about getting a kid's costume together, but I bet I could find some people 'round these parts who do!)

So, in conclusion:

1) The world needs more superheroes. 

2) Sometimes a superhero is someone who tells a random young girl just how awesome her Wonder Woman t-shirt is, or how much you admire her choice of comic books, or her hobby, or her costume.

3) So let's all go be superheros this week.


Update from AnnaMay's mom, Andrea: "Thank you so much for all of your comments! AnnaMay has been smiling so big. I am reading them all to her as they are posted. AnnaMay says she would love to be Wonder Woman for Halloween if she could. You all are making me cry happy tears! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!"

(So if any of you skilled costome gurus out there would like to volunteer your help with AnnaMay's costume, please e-mail me! I'll be more than happy to cover your expenses!)

[Wow, I think we've found all the help we need for AnnaMay's costume now, guys! Thank you! And don't worry; of COURSE I'll post a photo once we have one!]

Monday, June 3, 2013


This may be the best cure for Monday yet: a hilarious, mesmerizing, toe-tapping tribute that you'll tell yourself you'll just watch for a minute or two, but then you'll end up watching two or three times on repeat. :D

(John tells me we should watch this every morning before work, just to start the day off right. I think he's on to something there.)

It's fun trying to ID all the different movies - and I bet you can already tell which ones are my favorites. (I shrieked a little at the Back to the Future clip.) Plus, that ending! YES!

In fact, the only way that video could POSSIBLY be better is if it had a snippet of the Labyrinth ballroom scene and then some of this action:

via GB Fans, which you should totally follow on Facebook for daily 'bustin' goodness.

Yep, Egon dancing may just be my new favorite thing.
(Closely followed by Venkman dancing, of course.)

And while I'm sharing happy things, it's time to announce last month's art give-away winner! So, the randomly selected winner IS.... Shelly Dorris! Congrats, Shelly, and please e-mail me your mailing address, along with your choice of prize from my Pinterest give-away board!

Happy Monday, everyone! Now,  put on your red shoes, and let's DANCE THE BLUES.