Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Art Roundup: "Stained Glass" Star Trek, Watercolor Kylo Ren, & Geeky ABCs!

Yikes, where did March go? Quick, let's take a look at my favorite art finds before the month's up!

Marissa Garner's Etsy shop is on vacation until 4/3, but trust me, you'll want to bookmark it:

Because her stunning "Stained Glass" prints are printed on translucent paper, so you can tape them to a window and get the look of the real thing!

These 10X15 prints are $30, while this smaller 9X4 Pony set:

... is only $10.

Like I said, bookmark and/or "favorite" Garner's shop, Shards of Color for a future shopping spree!

NerdApproved just turned me on to Jenny Dolfen's Art, and I am gobsmacked:

These two prints right here. Gah.

Dolphen has lots of other characters in her shop, too, but her Kylo Ren art grabs me in a way few other artists have managed:

 It's beautiful and compelling and somehow tragic all at the same time.

Dolfen's prints start around $22, so be sure to see the rest!

Otis Frampton is about to crack you up with his geeky Alphabet Book, ABCDEFGeek.

Now, I know, there are a lot of geek Alphabet books out there - but look:

Monday, March 28, 2016

14 Geeky Jewelry Finds To Threaten Your Bank Account: Calvin & Hobbes, Labyrinth Knockers, & MORE

You guys, I don't even have pierced ears.

So why do I keep finding the best geeky stud earrings?!

Exhibit A: Little toy Hobbes head from Calvin & Hobbes:


And who remembers the tiny floating whale from Steven Universe?

Don't get the reference? Have 7 seconds? Then here:


And heck, even if you're not a SU fan (SACRILEGE!!), it's a tiny pink whale.

Or how about these bitty Calcifers From Howl's Moving Castle?

Ok, let's move on to jewelry I can actually wear, like these clear resin pendants from The Gorgonist:

It was almost impossible to pick just 2 favorites, so go check out The Gorgonist shop for similar see-through styles of cakes-under-glass, gumball machines, and more.

I'm not sure if anyone's still as obsessed with BioShock: Infinite as I am, but LOOK HOW COOL:

A Glow-In-The-Dark Salts Bottle Necklace!! $15 from GeekOUTlet

Ok, this next one's *definitely* gonna cause some nerd squealage out there:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Stop Everything And Watch This Potter Fan Film

I can't believe this hit the interweb a whole THREE WEEKS AGO, and I've just found it now.

So on the off chance this is the first you're hearing of Severus Snape and the Marauders, too, get ready to feel all the feelz you can feel.

But first, a quick setup from the film's producers:

Set in 1978 just after Harry Potter's father James graduates from Hogwarts, he and his friends Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew celebrate at a bar, contemplating their place in a war they are to soon become a part of. When Severus Snape enters the same bar, knowing the part he might play in the war, James Potter decides to do something about Snape once and for all.


The film is 25 minutes, but it's time you took a lunch/dinner break anyway, right?

The production quality and casting is simply jaw-dropping, and though I've always been a *little* resistant to Team Snape (that whole "friend zone" anger from the fandom towards Lily gets me riled, y'all) this had me rooting for Severus in a whole new, yelling-at-the-screen-and-fist-pumping way. 

I also appreciate how well the Marauders are kept in character, and how Remus (my favorite) was consistently the voice of conscience for the group, but still put his loyalty to his friends first.

As for James Potter... well, as I posted to my personal FB, this is hard to watch, because it's so, so good. And again, feelz. As in, you're gonna feel this one in your gut.

Afterward I decided to give the film the hardest litmus test there is for all things Potter: I had John watch it. And get this: HE LOVED IT. Yep, the biggest Potter geek/book purist I know gives this his stamp of approval, guys! That's the highest of high praise!

K, no more spoilery talk. Just watch.

Oh! And when you're done, go check out the website for behind-the-scenes photos, official posters & wallpapers, and more:

(Did I mention Lily makes a badass appearance? Srsly, guys, you have to see this.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Writing My Way Out

In college I struggled with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) because my diet was terrible and I tended to skip meals. I would get shaky, light-headed, tired, and then start to retreat into myself and shut down. I would go numb inside, sitting and staring at nothing for hours if left unchecked, not caring that I was getting worse, not caring that all I needed was a little food to make the numbness go away. (This continued into my marriage, embarrassingly enough, and it took many long months for John to figure out that the cure for his new bride's glassy-eyed funks was a large tablespoon of peanut butter.)

That's when I first learned how fickle feelings could be. If a crappy granola bar could make the sun shine again and life seem worth living, then how could I trust *anything* I was feeling?

Worse, I later realized that one of the biggest problems with feelings - or at least the crappy ones - is how permanent they always seem. When we feel bad it feels like we're going to feel bad forever. Time just stops, drops, and wallows in all the sadness, listlessness, anger, guilt, etc, and no matter how we try, we can't even imagine a time when the awfulness will fade. It's the world's worst magic trick, a malevolent ghost in the machine. It's the conviction born of a half-remembered nightmare, but one we don't question, because it feels like the truth.

Those are the times we have to hang on with blind faith, trusting in the very treachery of our own nature. Because the devastating, hope-affirming truth is, our feelings are rotten lying bastards.

I still remember my sense of betrayal the first time I had a little too much booze and the room wobbled. I hated the fact that something besides me was making me feel this way. I vowed to never give that kind of control to any drink, any drug. I wanted to feel the truth, not be lied to and manipulated by so many artificial shifting sands.

So these days, when I can chart my days of funks and fatigue and "don't you DARE talk to me"s like clockwork on the calendar, I again feel betrayed - but by my own body. I hate having my moods dictated by some extraneous organ spewing hormones. I hate being listless and sad when I have STUFF to do. I hate when John discounts my discontent because "it's just your grumpy day, babe," and then I yell back that it is NOT that time yet so no it is NOT my 'grumpy day', and then I really REALLY hate it when I check the calendar and John's right. Again.

On the bright(er) side, I've come to see my anxiety and agoraphobia in the same light: as simply more treacherous, fickle feelings that can never be trusted. They whisper, "forever," but they lie. They, too, are artificial shifting sands, the byproduct of something broken - something that I hope one day to fix.

But when I feel happy, and proud of something I've done, or grateful or peaceful or in awe of something beautiful, when I feel inspired and hopeful, when I laugh 'til I leak, or when I'm just cozy in the warmth of John's arms, I choose to believe that those are the times I feel the truth. If life really is what we make of it, then those are the foundations I will cling to.

I can't always control how I feel. Heck, I'm not convinced I can ever control how I feel. What I can control is how I interpret these ever-shifting sands, and how I channel them. I can control who and what I trust, and who and what I believe. I can choose to wait through the darkness, and trust that the light is coming. I can choose to wallow in the good, when I have it, as much as the bad.

I can choose to write everything down, and remember this feeling isn't forever.

I write these things to remind myself, because I need reminding pretty often. Maybe you do, too. Maybe the whole reason you found Epbot - if you believe in that kind of thing - is because you needed these words today. Maybe I'm only posting for you today. If so, then I think I speak for everyone here when I say: WORTH IT. Come wallow with us. We got your back.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Epcot's Egg Hunt & Flower and Garden Festival, 2016

Every year Epcot hosts an "Egg-stravaganza" Easter Egg Hunt around the world showcase, but in the past it's been less of a "hunt" and more of a "so obvious it'd be harder to miss them" kind of deal. Still cute, of course, but very little challenge.

This year, however, was SO MUCH BETTER. So now that the hunt's about to wrap up for the year (you have 'til 3/27, Dizgeeks), let's take a quick tour!

One of the best parts of the Hunt is that it falls during Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival, so you get eye-candy galore in the form of colorful topiaries and flower beds.

Anyone can look for the eggs, of course, but if you want the special map and Easter egg prize, you'll have to shell out (see what I did there?) about $6.

And this time the map was ORANGE! I approve.

You're supposed to put the egg stickers on the map as you find them, but you get your prize whether you complete the map or not. Here's Disney's official photo of your prize choices:
It's nice that they change up the eggs each time. Last year I got Donald:

 And this time we chose Cheshire for John.

More prettiness:

Friday, March 18, 2016

This Self-Appointed "Queen Of Sh*tty Robots" Is My New Hero

You may have seen some of Simone Giertz's creations already, or at least this gif of how she touches up her lipstick:

(Love that final flourish at the end. It's like, "oops, missed a spot... GOT IT.")

I'm late to the party, since Simone's channel has been blowing up on Youtube for months now, but this is a genius that must be shared.

Not only is Simone absolutely hilarious (you're missing out if you're not watching her build vlogs), she's also an unapologetic tinkerer who makes robot-building seem both doable and ridiculously fun.

Plus she reminds me of Willow from Buffy mixed with Hannah from My Drunk Kitchen. BONUS.

Now, who wants to go build stuff??

Just, uh, not this:


 Go check out Simone's Youtube channel for lots more hilarity (again, watch the build vlogs!), and then follow her on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with her latest projects.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WDW's Skipper Canteen: Photo Tour & Review

Last week John and I had some time before a park meetup, so we moseyed over to the new Skipper Canteen restaurant in Adventureland.

We'd heard it's almost always a walk-in - no reservations needed (or even accepted, last I checked) -  and the rumors are true: the cast members at the exterior check-in podium looked positively GIDDY when we asked for a table.

Here's the interior courtyard, presumably where you wait if the place is full:

Your first look inside is another waiting area/lobby:

... with a pretty eclectic design. It feels like Caribbean meets... Victorian? Which I suppose does equal West Indies...

Here's the little sitting area outside those shuttered doors:
You may notice the lack of any people. We certainly did. o.0

(Granted, this was mid-afternoon on a weekday, but this is also DISNEY, so... foreshadowing?)

There's a nifty contraption on the ceiling:

It took me a moment to realize it was moving on a motor, not just being blown by the slight breeze. It's supposed to be an old-timey fan of sorts, but moves so slowly that it's really just decorative.

Now let's get to the good stuff. Here's the main dining hall:

When I first saw photos of the Canteen, I'll admit I was really disappointed - and this room is a big reason why. Don't get me wrong, it's lovely, but it's not the cram-packed Jungle Cruise homage I was expecting. I hoped for a restaurant-sized Hangar Bar or Trader Sam's, both of which are densely packed with obscure treasures and elaborately themed down to the tiniest detail. This... is not.

However, there is still hope! Because through this "hidden" doorway built into a set of bookcases:

...lies the S.E.A. Room.

The S.E.A. Room (which stands for Society of Explorers & Adventurers) is much closer to what I originally hoped for, and echoes the beyond-stunning Magellan's Restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland. 

The prettiest seat in the room has to be this Butterfly Booth: 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Meet The Newest Hamilton Fangirl

Spoiler: it's me.

Yep, my curiosity finally got the best of me, and I decided to see (or more accurately, hear) what so many online and in my circle of friends have been raving about.


For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, Hamilton is the newest smash hit on Broadway - though even "smash hit" is an understatement. Why? Because it's the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, told through hip-hop. Yep, we're talking rap battles, pop ballads, the works.

If you're like me, you'll understand what all the fuss is about on the first listen, be hooked by the second, and completely in love by the third. I've listened to the entire soundtrack once a day for three days now, and I'm hoping to go 4-for-4 later tonight. This thing is clever, catchy, funny, and packs a stronger emotional punch with every listen. (I don't recommend listening to the last 20+ minutes in public. Two words: BAWLY MESS.)

And you can listen to the entire soundtrack for free  here on Hamilton's Youtube channel.
The handy-dandy playlist means you only have to hit 'play' once.

Or, if you're not ready to dive in just yet, here's quick clip to (hopefully) pique your interest:

... and a longer segment from CBS Good Morning that I found really interesting:

Parents should note the soundtrack has its share of F bombs and a little inappropriate sexy time action, which you can avoid if you skip the song "Say No To This."

 For everyone else, though: GO LISTEN. 

And for those already onboard the Hamilton-loving-bandwagon with me, check out this adorable fan art by the amazing Katie Cook:


Now to start counting down the days 'til the official tour (which hasn't even started yet) reaches Orlando...

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dragon Con 2015, The Best Cosplay Pt 5

Here we go, last batch!

Picking up where we left off, this steampunk Ariel has the biggest dinglehopper I've ever seen:

And I just realized how dirty "dinglehopper" can sound.

More steampunk Disney goodness:

Awesome wings, Tink! (The holographic film caught the light on one side, which is why only one side seems see-through.)

This Hawk Girl had to stay near the walls with her impressive wingspan:

Here's another shot of the oh-so-intimidating Sauron:
I think I mentioned before that taking low shots like this can be dangerous at DCon, since the crowd can shift in a moment and risk trampling you. Still, cool angle, right?

 For everyone who's made this joke (including me!), here she is:

Kim Cardassian.

I've seen this couple at the last few DCons, and they always have incredible matching armor:
I don't recognize the characters, though. Anyone know? 

Here's the big Borderlands meet we went to:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

CONjure 2016 - And John's First-Ever Costume Win!

Remember about a year and a half ago when John and I presented Mark Sheppard with his own custom Crowley POP! vinyl? That happened at CONjure, a local con that drew in such small crowds, I felt like the vendors outnumbered the attendees. It was bad, y'all. So bad, they even stopped charging admission by the second day, hoping to get more bodies in the vendor hall.

I was astounded, then, when CONjure returned last weekend for a second show. And even though it was beautifully run - gorgeous hotel, solid celebrity guests, plenty of panels, etc - once again, almost no one showed up. It always breaks my heart to see a dead con (lookin' at you, ShockPop), but I think CONjure's steep $25 daily admission could have had a lot to do with it. (And, once again, they dropped admission and let everyone in for free on Sunday! This is setting a bad precedent, guys...)

I planned to skip CONjure this year, but when a friend offered us an extra badge, John and I decided to head over for the last few hours on Saturday. I even convinced John to go as Dreamfinder last minute:

It's so much more fun for John in costume, and even though we were warned there was no one there, it felt like CONjure had better crowds this year. (Although "crowds" may be too generous of a word.)

I won't bore you guys with more heart-warming stories of complete strangers going gaga for DF and Figment, but suffice to say, seeing happy people just never gets old.

Here's a mashup I've never seen: Star Wars in Oz!

Check out the little BB-8 in her basket!  Hee!

As much steampunk as I've seen, I'll admit I can sometimes get a little jaded. But this steampunk family? AMAZEBALLS:

They had several light-up elements, like the lady's monocle and inside the gent's snake head cane. They went on to win "Best Group" in the costume contest, and deservedly so!

With so few cosplayers there, John decided to enter the costume contest. It was surprisingly fun for him last time, even without winning anything, so why not, right? So we headed over to the pre-judging room, which took about an hour:

Near the end a guy in a red jacket snuck in and started filming the judges' Q&A with the contestants. I immediately recognized him: Sandeep Parikh, aka Zaboo from The Guild!

 So of course I started snapping pics with my phone:

For this interview he sat in the Xenomorph's lap:


This is the #1 advantage to small cons, you guys: you just don't get this kind of interaction with celebs anywhere else. (Later Sandeep hosted a Party Bus from the con, where he and 30 guests went drinking at geek bars all night! And I know at least two of them were Epbot readers, so... how was it, guys?)

The contest itself was emceed by Dana Snyder, aka the voice of Master Shake on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Dana is HUGE Dizgeek, and zeroed in on John from stage right away.

Of course now I sound biased, but Dana seriously made this the most entertaining costume contest I've ever seen. He really played with the contestants: backing away in fear, cracking jokes, and keeping it quick and silly. (The first contestant was a little girl Ariel, so he sang the "Aa-aaa-aaaaa, a-aa-aaaa!" bit from Ariel's transformation... and then proceeded to sing the same thing for every. single. contestant. Including Deadpool and the Alien. LOVE.)

Dana did try to sing the Imagination song for John... and failed. Which was excellent.

Even though there weren't many contestants, neither of us figured John would win anything. Don't get me wrong; our Figgie is beautiful, but beside him John is really just wearing a custom suit. That's hard to stand up against foam armor and intricate dresses and whatnot.


He won! 

Not Best In Show, of course (that went to the armored couple beside him), but Best Individual!

(From left to right on stage there is Best Junior,  Best Technical (with the wings), Best Group, Best In Show, & Best Individual.)

Here's Dana Snyder with him afterward: 

And then Sandeep interviewing him on camera:

I'd finally fought my way through the crowd to get these pics, and John pointed me out... and then Sandeep was interviewing us both, and making dirty jokes that I went along with, but had John blushing and laughing non-stop. It was hilariously adorable. (Though I'm kind of hoping none of that ends up online anywhere...)

Afterward Sandeep asked to take a selfie with Figment, but the hand-off ended up looking like John was working out some anger issues, so I had to share:

 "No, Dreamfinder! NOOOOO!!"


John was super nervous through it all, but he was positively glowing the whole way home. I'm so proud of him, and so happy to see him getting love from fellow geeks! So thanks for letting me brag on my hubby, guys. More Dragon Con cosplay is coming up next!