August 30, 2013

Recently Read: The Cahill Witch Chronicles (1 and 2), Eleanor and Park + six more

Well ... it's been a while since I posted one of these, so prepare yourself for a bit of a book dump.

What have I been reading lately?

Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin

Here's the book's synopsis:
Teen rocker Ritchie Sudden is pretty sure his life has just jumped the shark. Except he hates being called a teen, his band doesn't play rock, and "jumping the shark" is yet another dumb cliché. Part of Ritchie wants to drop everything and walk away. Especially the part that's serving ninety days in a juvenile detention center.

Telling the story of the year leading up to his arrest, Ritchie grabs readers by the throat before (politely) inviting them along for the (max-speed) ride. A battle of the bands looms. Dad split about five minutes before Mom's girlfriend moved in. There's the matter of trying to score with the dangerously hot Ravenna Woods while avoiding the dangerously huge Spence Proffer—not to mention just trying to forget what his sister, Beth, said the week before she died.

August 29, 2013

Nerd News: A 12 Monkeys series, Ben as Batman, a Divergent teaser and more

Vol. 4, Issue 33

Hello friends! It's that time again ...

In movie news:

Here are a few trailers:

The Book Thief








August 28, 2013

Haiku Revieu: The Mortal Instruments:City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (***1/2)

Let's kill some demons
Robert sounds American
Wooden acting, yuck

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. I really wanted this movie to be good, you guys, I really did. And yet ... I am disappoint.

City of Bones centers around Clary, a "normal" teenage girl who starts seeing things no one else, particularly her best friend Simon, can see. When she confronts one of her hallucinations, a startlingly attractive boy who's name turns out to be Jace, she learns that she is not as normal as she seems. In fact, she's a "shadowhunter," a better than human species whose main purpose in life is to hunt down demons and kill them. This discovery leads to danger, excitement and—of course—life-changing adventure.

I am a fan of the Mortal Instruments book series (upon which this movie is based) in part because of the interesting plot lines and the well-rounded and humorous characters. The adaptation's plot was truncated, which I do realize happens in these cases due to time constraints, to a such a point that the entire thing got a little muddy. Plot points were changed in odd ways that just didn't make sense to me. And some of the actors were so wooden, they were hard to watch—particularly Godfrey Gao, who plays the character Magnus Bane. Magnus is supposed to be a flamboyant, snarky character with a room-filling presense, and, well ... Godfrey was nice to look at?

I did, however, enjoy some of the other casting. Robert Sheehan played Simon, Clary's bookish (and human) best friend. Simon is such a 180 from Nathan (Misfits), the only other character I've seen Robert play. Simon's also American, and Robert pulled off the accent quite well. Jamie Campbell Bower wasn't terrible as Jace, but he didn't quite have the gift for humor that book!Jace has. Lily Collins is super adorable—and girl totally owns her eyebrows—but I wanted a little more badass and a little less I guess I'll just go with the flow kind of girl.

The action scenes were also quite impressive—props to the stunt coordinators, and to some of the cast, who did their own stunts—and the demons were appropriately creepy.

Some of the musical choices, though, particularly during a pivotal scene that takes place in a conservatory (if you've read the books, you know which one I am talking about), are so bizarre and jarring.

Basically, there was good and bad, but the bad outweighed the good for me on this one. I know that the second movie's already in the works, and I really hope that, like a certain other YA book series adaptation, the movies get better as the series progresses.

August 27, 2013

obsessed.: Pocket, Matthew Berry's Fantasy Life and Jez Dior

I am all about productivity apps that help my keep my life a little bit more organized. I'm terrible about forgetting things unless I write them down, and I have a whole chain of emails to myself filled with links to read ... when I get around to it.

When Feedly took their mini-toolbar offline for a revamp earlier this year, I needed to find something to replace the "save for later" feature that was one of my most favorite parts of the service. It took me a while—honestly, I forgot about it for a bit—but this past weekend I found Pocket, an app that seems like it's going to be what I needed and more.

Pocket is a bookmarking service. You add it on to your browser so that you can save a website, image or video to view later. If you're logged in, your links are synced between devices; and if you download the free app, you can take your saved links with you on the go. I haven't put it through the paces, yet, but I like what I see so far.

Here's a screenshot of the main screen of my app:

Now ... to actually read the things I save.


And this week, from the Mister:

Every year, Colt prepares for fantasy football season with the help of ESPN fantasy analyst Matthew Berry. (Yes, this is a real job, and yes—I'm assuming—he gets paid for it.) Berry was in Austin last night, promoting his new book Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who's Lived It.

As he is a huge Berry fan, Colt, of course, attended the event and brought home his very own signed version of Fantasy Life, which he promptly started reading as soon as he walked in the door. (The quote is in reference to Berry's Fantasy Focus podcast.)

He even got a photo taken with Berry, who, Colt says, was as entertaining in person as he is on TV/the radio.

And from TGG:

A mutual friend of ours recently introduced Wes to Jez Dior, a hip hop artist who just put out his first album, Scarlett Sage. Wes, who is much better versed in hip hop than I am, likens his style to Childish Gambino with a little Jay Z, and Wes' wife Emily says there's a little bit of Macklemore in the mix. Content-wise, Wes says, "he's not nerdy like Childish Gambino, and he's not as self deprecating either, but he's not as boastful as someone like Kanye West."

Here's one of the singles off the album:

And if you're interested in hearing (or having) the entirety of Scarlett Sage, you can stream it here and download it here. (It's legal, I promise.)

August 26, 2013

Life Geekery giveaway winner

We have a ...

Congratulations to:

I'll be sending you an email shortly, Kaitlin, with information on how to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered! And even if you didn't win, be sure to check out Life Geekery's Etsy shop and blog for more geeky goodies and nerdy awesomeness from Nikki and Matt.

August 23, 2013

August 22, 2013

Nerd News: Expendables 3 synopsis, medival X-Men, Wondy shorts and more

Vol. 4, Issue 32

Although it's not exactly the typical kind of nerdy news I typically provide in this series, the best news this week was the announcement that the boys of 'N Sync were going to reunite at this weekend's MTV Video Music Awards. (Thanks Jackie and Colt!) (I missed seeing them on tour during their heyday, and have been hoping and wishing for a reunion tour for years.) But that news, sadly, turned out to be false.

Or, you know, perhaps Lance is just being a troll ... (A girl can dream, OK?!)

In TV news:

Here's a promo video (full of COULSON-y goodness) for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:


These Doctor Who minimalist illustrations by The Joyful Fox speak are delightful. (Thanks, Rebecca!)


August 21, 2013

Prepping for Premiere Week 2013

There's a change in the air. Breezes are getting cooler, the sun is setting earlier, and DVRs are about to become overwhelmed with an influx of new series. Y'all know what that means—it's time to plan out my television viewing for the upcoming season!

If you're unfamiliar with my Premiere Week series, each year I take a week out of regularly scheduled C&CC planning to delve into the new shows of the new TV season. (You can get a feel for what Premiere Week is all about through these posts, and here's the post that started it all.)

Below, you'll find my fall 2013 premiere date calendar. (Please note: All times are CST, which is an hour earlier than everyone else in the U.S.) Google Calendars default on the current date, so you'll have to click forward to view the September/October/November calendars.

Premiere Week 2013
will officially fall Sept. 23–27. I'll do a post in early Sept. as a lead in to catch the shows that premiere prior to that week and one later in the fall to discuss some series that aren't premiering until midseason.

If I've left one of your favorite (or soon-to-be favorite) shows off of this year's calendar, you can view all of the major network's premiere dates* at the links below:
*Dates are subject to change—some have already. The calendar has the most up-to-date dates (as far as I can tell).

What shows are you really looking forward to this season? And if I left anything essential off the calendar, let me know!

P.S.—If you haven't already entered, don't miss out on the chance to win the Life Geekery giveaway!

The giveaway closes Thursday at midnight!

August 20, 2013

obsessed.: Bastille's Bad Blood, cyclist Phil Gaimon and the periodic table of elements

Every so often, I hear a song on the radio that strikes me. So I Shazam it, later research the band, and on few occasions fall completely for an entire album (or band's discography). I don't know about you, but I love it when that happens.

Recently, I've become obsessed. with UK band Bastille, thanks to their current radio single "Pompeii" ...

... and their debut album Bad Blood. Which, unfortunately for those of us stateside, won't be released until Sept. 3. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, however, you can listen to the whole thing below.

I hope you enjoy as much as I have!


And from the Mister:

Colt's got a new favorite cyclist, and his name is Phil Gaimon.

Aside from being a good pro cyclist, Colt likes him because of his comedic sensibilities. For examples, see the above photo, which is Phil's Twitter profile photos, and the main page of Phil's website——which features a list of cookie rankings:

I am a firm believer that cookie consumption is directly correlated with happiness. As such, I have had cookies all over the country, and consider myself an expert. This list is a public service, so that no one will ever waste precious calories on a mediocre cookie.

The greatest cookies in America are as follows:
1. Fudge Brownie Chip – Cafe Solterra – Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Glynn County, Georgia
2. Chocolate Chip – Levain Bakery – New York, New York
3. Double Chocolate Chip – Meeting Street Cafe – Providence, Rhode Island
4. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip – Woodstar Cafe – Hadley, Massachusetts
5. Amish Chocolate Chip – Javalina – Silver City, New Mexico
6. Cowboy Cookie – Handlebar Coffee – Santa Barbara, California
7. Chocolate Chip – Marie Shannon Bakery – Ventura, California
8. Chocolate Chip – We Three Restaurant and Bakery – Three Rivers, California
9. Vegan Chocolate Chip – Earth, Santa Monica, California
10. Chocolate Truffle – Alcove, Los Feliz, California
11. Chocolate Chip – Mama’s Kitchen – Palomar, California
12. "Le Buzz Cookie" – Le Buzz Coffee Shop, Tucson, Arizona

Please note that a proper cookie is always fresh (or lightly toasted to desired meltiness), and enjoyed with a glass of cold milk. I do accept submissions via mail. For consideration on the list, it must be from a bakery and available to consumers. That’s not to say I won’t appreciate it if you send me a batch that your wife made. Use the contact link to find out where I am. If I test positive from your cookie, I will hunt you down and kill you.

Phil's also a cycling columnist for VeloNews, and recently wrote an article in which he describes a conversation he had with his legs while on a ride. (Read it here.) It's a little over my head, but if you're a cyclist, you'll probably really enjoy it.

And from TGG:

Breaking Bad, one of Wes' favorite shows, is coming to an end next month. Geeks Who Drink, an awesome pub trivia organization, is doing a Breaking Bad-themed quiz the week before the finale. Wes and a team of friends and family are planning on competing, and in order to prepare, the team will be rewatching the entire series and studying the show's trivia.

Wes is taking things one step further and will be making an effort to learn/relearn the periodic table of elements "because the show revolves around chemistry and there's no telling what kind of questions they'll ask outside of basic plot-related items." He hopes this video, from super cool video makers ASAP Science, will help him learn.

August 19, 2013

Haiku Revieu: Austenland

Austenland (*****)

Jane is a huge mess
Austen is her fantasy
Life wins in the end

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. To be completely honest, I'm not a huge fan of reading Jane Austen's books. It's not that the stories aren't amazing—it's just that the language is hard for me to get into. (This is a bit of a guilty confession for someone who was an English major, to be sure. Reading all of her novels is on my list of things to do before I die, I promise.) I have, however, long loved Austen adaptations, from the faithful—the various wonderful versions of Pride and Prejudice—to the more "inspired by"—The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Lost in Austen, Clueless, Bridget Jones' Diary. There's something so timeless about Austen's heroines; with a little bit of adjustment, their stories can fit into any time period.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a pre-screening of Austenland, the latest Jane Austen-inspired movie (adapted from a Austen-inspired book of the same name). I'd been eagerly anticipating seeing this movie since viewing a trailer a few months ago, and the movie does not disappoint.

The basic plot is this: Jane, a Austen-obsessed fangirl, decides that she's had enough of her mundane life and decides to go on vacation to Austenland, a live-action role-playing vacation destination in England at which the guests (women) are expected to act like people would have acted in the regency era, and in turn are treated to an experience that frequently tops off with a Austen-style engagement. Through an often hilarious chain of events, Jane realizes that her fantasy world might not be all it's cracked up to be.

The characters in this movie are superb. Keri Russell plays Jane, and I love her in this kind of role: the "straight woman" who can get a little silly at times; Jennifer Coolidge is up to her typical hijinks as the dumb blonde with the heart of gold; and Jane Seymour plays, perfectly, the head of the household/owner of Austenland. The gentlemen in the movie are excellent, too: Bret McKenzie (of Flying Conchords fame) is both sweet and a little surprising; James Callis (who has experience in this sort of role, having played Bridget's gay BFF in Bridget Jones) was hilarious as a gentleman dandy; and JJ Feild does a wonderful (and attractive!) turn as the Darcy of the group.

The settings are gorgeous. The costumes are lovely. The comedy is non-stop (but, warning, can get really awkward at times). Basically, even if you're not a typical fan of Austen and her many adaptations, this movie is awesome, and you should go see it.

August 16, 2013

Here's wishing you a happy Friday ... and luck in winning a Life Geekery cozy!

Nikki and Matt are the (married and geeky) brains behind the awesome hand-created tech device cozies of Life Geekery. (And when I say geeky ... Check out their awesome couple's costume from Halloween 2012; and if you're so inclined, definitely check out the rest of their blog for some other amazing costumes from other years.)

When I posted the July update for my 30 Before 30 list, I mentioned that I needed to get on with No. 15: "Hold at least six C&CC giveaways." Nikki, a friend of C&CC, commented that Life Geekery might be interested in sharing something awesome with C&CC readers! I certainly couldn't turn that idea down; I mean, look at how awesome these are:

Seriously adorable, right? Well ... One lucky reader can win a Life Geekery cozy of their choice, in any of the sizes Nikki and Matt have previously made! (Check their Etsy for the sizes.)

The various ways to enter are in the Rafflecopter widget below. Please also be sure to leave your name and your email address in your blog comment so that I can get in touch with you if you win! The contest closes at midnight, Friday, Aug. 23, and I'll post the name of the winner Aug. 26.

Thanks so much, Nikki and Matt, for sharing such an amazing craft with us! And good luck to all of you who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 15, 2013

Nerd News: Disney art, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hollow Crown trailer and more

Vol. 4, Issue 31

Here's your weekly helping of geeky delights, friends. And there's definitely enough for everyone to have seconds. Enjoy!

In movie news:

Here is a trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire:


August 14, 2013

Haiku Revieu: The Wolverine

The Wolverine (****1/2)

Snikt, snikt go the claws
A lot of ninja action
Good Logan is back

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. After hearing some not so good things about The Wolverine (and, you know, seeing Wolverine), I didn't really have high hopes for this movie. Perhaps it was going into the movie with this mindset, but I was actually pleasantly surprised about how much I liked it.

The plot was pretty basic, as far as comic stories go, and is set (minus flashbacks) post-X3. During WWII, Logan saved the life of a Japanese soldier, who went on to found a technology company that grew to be one of the most successful companies in the world. When the man is on his deathbed, he sends people to find Logan, who is living the life of a hermit deep in the woods, to say goodbye. Logan travels to Japan and gets involved with the dying man's family—and their shady business projects.

The movie went a long way toward tying the stand-alone Wolverine movies into the X-Men franchise, both older films and newer ones. (More on that latter part below.) Hugh Jackman basically is Wolverine, so it's no surprise that he continues to excel in the role. Famke Janssen reprises her role as Jean Grey—in a manner of speaking. The rest of the cast were new to the franchise, although many of their characters weren't new to X-Men canon, and they all did well in their roles. Except, that is, for Svetlana Khodchenkova, who played the villain, Viper. I don't know why, but all of her lines were dubbed, and it was extremely distracting watching her lips not line up with the speech that was supposedly coming out of them.

One thing I really didn't like, however, was the ending and what happened with Logan's claws. I'm not going to say what happens, exactly, but it was a bit disturbing, and I have no idea how the powers that be (in future movies) are going to fix it. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

The movie was a lot of fun, and way better than the first, but the defining moment, for me, was actually the in-credits scene, which ties The Wolverine to the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past in a big way. In a squirming in my seat, bouncing with excitement, fangirl squeal big way. (If you have no interest in seeing The Wolverine in theaters, but want to know what I'm talking about, you can watch a bootleg version of the scene here.)

Definitely check this movie out if you're a Hugh Jackman/Wolverine fan (or possibly just looking for something to tide you over until X-Men: Days of Future Past).

August 13, 2013

obsessed.: Grammar Slam, "Royals" and The Last Of Us documentary

As part of YouTube's Geek Week, Nerdist announced a new series from WWE Superstar (wrestler) CM Punk, who, unexpectedly, has a serious love of proper grammar.

In the blog post announcing Grammar Slam, Punk was quoted as saying, "I guess, to me, language and expressing yourself is important. Whatever vehicle you use to express yourself, if it’s not done correctly, then I think that’s way more than what you’re actually saying. I mean, if you don’t properly know how to address somebody, you kind of lose all credibility. It mostly stems from people trying to criticize anything, whether it be a person, a form of art, a government, anything, and they don’t know the difference between their, there and they’re. It kind of throws up alarms and you can’t take them seriously."

Color me impressed. Grammar Slam has five episodes so far: "Your vs. You're," "Then & Than," "Literally vs. Figuratively." "There/Their/They're" and "Through vs. Threw." The first of the series is below.

I love the mix of serious topic with wrestling themes, and the whole "giving Internet trolls a taste of their own medicine" part makes it just that much better.

Check out the entirety of the series here.


And this week, from the Mister:

Colt's got a new jam, and this time it's from a 16-year-old New Zealander named Ella Yelich-O'Connor, better known as Lorde.

When Colt realized her age, he messaged me at work: "Ugh … Lorde is only 16! We're so OLD!"

Even after that comment, I can't fault his taste in music; the girl's got some serious talent.

And from TGG:

Wes recently played through new game The Last of Us and loved it. (I can attest to this—I've gotten multiple messages/texts telling me how amazing it is over the past few weeks.) Wes says: "I just finished a few days ago and it was soooo good that I keep thinking about it and how much I loved the characters. It's a rough game emotionally, but it looks beautiful and the acting and writing are amazing."

I've linked to information about it in past editions of Nerd News, but The Last of Us, which is considered an "action-adventure survival horror" game, centers around playable character Joel, who is leading a girl named Ellie across a post-apocalyptic America. The action comes in when Joel must battle against zombie-like creatures, bandits, etc. (View a trailer here.)

The developer behind the game created a documentary on the making of it, which has been turned into a full-length feature. "I don't usually think this much about the production of a game," Wes says, "but I loved the entire thing so much it makes me curious about the development." Here's a trailer: