April 30, 2013

Changes to C&CC series and ... a GIVEAWAY! (Giveaway now closed)

Thank you all for the kind words about the update! I'm excited that you're enjoying it.

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to explain a little bit about some changes I've made to both my weekly and occasional blog series.

First: I've changed the post headers for the past few series posts and will be using the new ones from here on out. (I'll eventually go back and update older posts. ... Eventually.)

Second: I'm going to start including selections from The Mister and TGG in obsessed. posts on a pretty regular basis. It'll bring a little bit more of their respective perspectives to the blog, and they have pretty decent taste, so the things they come up with should be at least a little bit entertaining.

Third: I'm phasing out Geek of the Week and getting rid of A Life More Pinteresting. Geek of the Week kind of ran its course, but I might bring it back in the future if I think of a unique new spin to it. A Life More Pinteresting never took off (partly because I only posted four Pinteresting posts). I tried to make it a thing, but I feel like I was attempting to capitalize on the Pinterest craze and it never really fit with the C&CC aesthetic. I'd still like to do more craft and DIY posts, but now I won't feel like I have to do a certain thing to fit into a mold.

Fourth: I hope to introduce a new series next month that will increase the amount of discussion we have in the comments. (More on that TBD.)

Thank you for reading through that, but I know what you're really here for—the GIVEAWAY!

Any resemblance to the Google logo is purely coincidental.*

In order to celebrate the new design and C&CC's third birthday, I'm giving away a custom designed and created (by me) Fandom Plush! What's a Fandom Plush, you ask? It's, well, have a look:


Basically, a Fandom Plush is my fancy way of saying "a felt stuffed doll based on a pop culture character." (I based the look on the adorable Disney's Pook-A-Looz toys.) As you can see, I've done a Tenth Doctor, a Thor and a Loki so far, but the sky's the limit! Each plush is handmade by me and, therefore, one of a kind. (The winner's package might include a few surprises as well if I'm feeling particularly generous.)

The various ways to enter are in the widget below. Please be sure to leave your name and your email address in your comment so that I can get in touch with you if you win! ETA: The winner will be chosen May 7 and announced here on the blog May 8.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! And thank you, as always, for sticking with me and C&CC.

*The indoctrination is complete!

April 29, 2013

Welcome to Chocolate & Cream Cake v3.0


Welcome back, friends! I hope you missed me just enough over the weekend to make this grand reveal exciting. (If you're checking this post out in a reader, I'd suggest you pop over to the actual site.) Here's what's new for Chocolate & Cream Cake:

First: You likely noticed this right away, but I've updated the design of the blog, going from three columns to two, changing up the typeface in the header and removing any barriers between the blog content and the background. The new design shouldn't be entirely unfamiliar—there's still a bit of graph paper and the old color scheme has been expanded, but not really changed. I think the changes make the blog a bit cleaner and, hopefully, easier to navigate.

Thank you to the following blogs (and the women behind them) for providing me with inspiration for the new design: A Safe Mooring, My Life As a Teacup, Campfire Chic, Maiedae, Kyla Roma and Creature Type. <3

Second: If you'll check out the URL box above *Vanna White motion*, you might notice that there's no longer a .blogspot in the address. I finally got around to buying an official C&CC domain name! Fancy, right? Everything should transfer/redirect fine, but if you have any issues with feeds, let me know.

Third: Traveling down to just below the URL is the new navigation bar. Most of the options are pretty self-explanatory, but just to be clear:
  • HOME—Clicking this will take you back to the main page.
  • ABOUT—This will take you to an updated "about me" page from which you can also access the "about C&CC page" that tells the backstory of the blog's name.
  • CONTACT—This will take you to a page that pretty much only includes my email address. Which, thanks to the new domain, has also been updated; it's now mandy@chocolateandcreamcake.com.
  • 30 BEFORE 30—This will take you to my original "30 Before 30" post on which you can watch my progress with the project.
  • OTHER READS—This will take you to a page full of my favorite blogs to read. I hope to update it on a pretty regular basis.

Fourth: Mouse over an image in any blog post and a Pinterest icon will pop up in the top right hand corner. This will make it easier for those of you who find something in one of my posts that you'd like to pin.

Fifth: The new sidebar combines many elements of the two I had previously:
  • My new photo links to the ABOUT page.
  • The social media and follow icons below the photo will help you stay connected with both C&CC and me on a variety of networks. (I'm particularly pleased with the hover feature of these images!)
  • The BLOG SERIES links will lead you to archives of the various series.
  • MY NERDY WORLD features a slideshow of my Instagram feed.
  • You can find links to my various other projects under OTHER PROJECTS.
  • The links under CONTRIBUTORS will lead you to bios of C&CC's two main contributors, The Mister and TGG.
  • The ads underneath FRIENDS OF C&CC will lead you to some of the great blogs I've swapped ads with. 
  • The links below BLOG ARCHIVE will help you take a look back at the posts that have come before. (I'm not totally satisfied with the way this looks, so it might change in the near future if I can come up with something I like better.)

Finally: I hope you'll do a little bit of exploring to see what all C&CC v3.0 has to offer. Please let me know if there's something amiss, something that you love or something that you really don't like. I want to make sure that this is the best version yet!

Check back tomorrow for a post explaining a few changes I've made content-wise, a list of the blogs that I used as inspiration PLUS a special way to celebrate the start of C&CC's fourth year.

April 26, 2013

Going dark until Monday ...


With C&CC's third birthday coming up on Monday, the time has come for me to do a little housekeeping and make a few upgrades. Later tonight, I'll be turning the blog private for the weekend in order to give me time to make adjustments without revealing things piece by piece.

I'll be back Monday morning with some exciting (I hope!) improvements and a birthday celebration (or two!).

April 25, 2013

Nerd News: Doctor shoes, a J.J. Abrams art show, the Thor 2 trailer and more

 photo cccv30_header_nerdnews.png
Vol. 4, Issue 15

It's been a good week for us Loki Marvel fans, what with the Iron Man 3 premiere last night and the addition of more mutants to X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is turning into a Marvel film version of Injustice: Gods Among Us.* There were some other things that happened as well; I suppose you'll just have to read on to find out what.

In movie news:

Here are a bunch of trailers:

Byzantium


(via)

Much Ado About Nothing


(via)

Now You See Me (This is the first I remember of hearing of this movie, but it looks super cool!)


(via)

Ratchet and Clank


(via)

R.I.P.D.


(via)

Star Trek Into Darkness


(via)

As an FYI: There comes a time at which I stop watching trailers for movies in order to save at least a little something for the actual thing. I hit this point with STID and Iron Man 3 like a month ago. But I still like to post them for those of you who like to watch.

Thor: The Dark World (!!!)


(via)

The Wolverine


(via)

April 24, 2013

Fictional Fancies: Topher Brink

 photo cccv30_header_fictionalfancies.png

Today's Fictional Fancy is brought to us by Rhianne, who shares her gorgeous photos and glimpses into her life at For the Easily Distracted ... Although Topher wasn't exactly a "good" guy in Dollhouse, he was an interesting and complex character. Also: The Mister and I saw Fran in an airport once, and he's as cuddly looking in real life as he is on screen.

Today I am going to share my favourite Fictional Fancy—Topher from Josh Whedon's underrated and way too short television series, Dollhouse.

First though I'm just going to admit it—I think that this man is beautiful. I mean look at him—he has a gorgeous jaw line, a dimply chin and hair I want to ruffle all day long.


However, amazingly, the appeal of Topher Brink isn't his dashing good looks or nerdy selection of layered clothing ... the appeal is him—the mannerisms, the bad jokes, the unquestionable intelligence and ultimately his growth across the two series of Dollhouse.


At the start of series 1, Topher is initially shown as an amoral genius, too wrapped up in his own work and abilities to realise the impact of his actions around him, however as he develops relationships with the characters around him, his outlook expands causing him to start questioning his actions and morals, before eventually falling in love and realising that he has something to fight for and against.


Being a Josh Whedon character, however, Topher's growth is gradual and subtly done, and its not until you watch "Epitaph 1" and see Topher as a broken man that you realise quite how much you like him and depend on his silly sense of humour. You also realise that Topher makes the characters around him better people—Adele DeWitt being one relationship that Topher develops over the series, resulting in unexpectedly touching scenes between them—something neither of them seemed capable of at the start of show.

P.S.—Also, an exciting bit of trivia for you: Fran Kranz didn't take part in the lake scene in Cabin in the Woods as he was "ripped like muscular Jesus" (as stated in the Cabin in the Woods commentary) and in better shape than Chris Hemsworth ... yup, Topher was fitter than Thor! Now if only I could find a photo of him without all the layers on!

If you're interested in sharing a Fictional Fancy of your own, email me!

April 23, 2013

obsessed.: More from Pitch Perfect


I think many of you can agree with me when I say: Last week sucked, you guys. On the one hand, there was illness and car troubles, on the other (much larger) hand were the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX. Work was crazy; life was crazy. As much as I could, I tried to find a happy place to escape to, be it time spent with the Mister, silly Internet distractions, or watching Pitch Perfect.

And listening to the More from Pitch Perfect soundtrack.


This second soundtrack from the film features an extended, radio version of "Cups," a bunch of the mashups featured in the movie, Nicki Minaj's "Starships" (which now reminds me of Tom Hiddleston, actual starships and Pitch Perfect—three of my favorite things) and more. The eight-song soundtrack is above, for your listening pleasure. I hope it brings you as much joy as it does me.

Here's to a MUCH better week.

April 22, 2013

Haiku Revieu: Oblivion


Oblivion (****)

High-tech future toys
The Earth is no longer home
Love does conquer all


POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. I am not a huge Tom Cruise fan; his roles are hit are miss for me. I really like the Mission: Impossible movies and a lot of his earlier roles are classics, but I never go to a Tom Cruise movie for Tom Cruise. After seeing Oblivion, in which Tom is very much the main actor, I've been rethinking my opinion of him.

Oblivion is a gorgeous movie set in a history in which the world has undergone serious ecological changes. The basic plot is that a war with aliens has led the majority of the human population to leave earth for Titan (one of Saturn's moons) or a space station in Earth orbit called the Tet. The few that have been left behind are keeping watch over a set of drones that protect giant machines sucking up seawater and turning it into power. Some of the "Scavs," the alien race that started the war, occasionally mess with the drones. Tom's character, Jack, is a drone tech who has to be careful not to run into the Scavs when we goes out to repair the drones. One day, a NASA ship with humans in status pods crashes to earth ... and everything is flipped on its head.

Things I liked about the movie:
  • It was a peaceful scifi film, if that makes any sense. There was some action, but much of the movie was Jack flying around in his ship. Which leads me to:
  • The "tech" was awesome. Jack's ship, his house, the drones; everything was futuristic, but it wasn't sterile. And the further along the plot progressed, the dirtyier (both literally and figuratively) the story got, the tech did too.
  • Earth was a main character. It's much different than the Earth we know today, but the scenery (although altered) was just as beautiful.
  • Morgan Freeman.

Things that I didn't quite like about the movie:
  • The music, at times, can be very distracting. It was reminiscent to me of something out of Blade Runner, and that didn't fit the feel of Oblivion. It also got really loud at times, which disrupted my immersion in the film.
  • The plot was a bit predictable.

Things that are neither good nor bad, just thoughts:
  • The film paid homages to movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes.
  • Vica as a nickname for Victoria is one I've never heard before, but it's very cool.

If you've been weighing going to see this movie while it's in theaters, Oblivion is definitely a film that is worth seeing on the big screen.

Also—and this is definitely a spoiler, but not really one that reveals any of the plot—after seeing the movie, I now realize that the poster on the left (above) is totally misleading. The Empire State Building, in the movie, is underground up to the observation deck and there's no waterfall anywhere nearby. It's a silly inaccuracy, but it bothers me a little bit.

April 19, 2013

My dream cars

Some unexpected car issues this week got me thinking about what having a new car would be like, which then led to me thinking about the cars I would love to have if money—and gas mileage—were no object.

1971 Chevy Nova, fire engine-red:

(via)

I was once thisclose to owning one of these.* I ran across one at a car show in my later years of high school. It was on sale for around $8,500 and I asked my parents to buy it for me. They said "the car or college." I said the car ... Turns out they weren't serious.

1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, white with wood panels:

(via)

1966 Ford Bronco, royal (TARDIS?) blue with removable hard top:

(via)

I've definitely got a thing for old-school steel.** What about you guys? What are your dream cars?

*Not really.
**I can't really pull that off, can I.

April 18, 2013

Nerd News: Divergent's final book, Pitch Perfect 2, R.I.P.D. trailer and more

Vol. 4, Issue 14

There are a bunch of really exciting trailers in the movie news section below, so if you want to skip down there and then come back to read the TV news, I won't blame you. (I'm a slave to organizational structure.)

In TV news:

In webseries news:

A new gallery show in LA celebrates the best of 90s Nickelodeon.

(via)

April 17, 2013

I met Logan Echolls (!) at a Veronica Mars Kickstarter event

Last Friday, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone yet again (yay 30 before 30 progress!) and met up with a couple of new book club friends at a party counting down the end of the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter. Rob Thomas (the creator of the show) lives in town, and put out a call for backers to meet up at a local pub to celebrate the end of the record-breaking funding period. In the end, the project did quite well:


I'm proud to be one of the nearly 92,000 people that backed the movie and am really looking forward to seeing it in theaters.

Hundreds of people showed up to the event, so it wasn't until nearly the end that we made it into the actual area in which all the action was taking place. We had no idea that Logan Echolls Jason Dohring had showed up, too, until seeing it on Twitter!

Here are my photos from the event (including proof of today's blog title):


Left: Rob Thomas was speaking from somewhere near that screen. We were on the other side of a fence. Right: Jason sighting!


Rob got very excited at the end of the funding period.


Left: The swag we got for signing a release—a documentary crew was filming at the event. Right: (Click to embiggen.) The pub had a special menu for the event. (I only partook in Diet Coke, sadly.)


And finally: Jason and me! (I really wish I had put more effort into getting dressed for the evening, but it was Friday night, and I was tired. Hindsight, amirite?)

April 16, 2013

obsessed.: Pixel People


It's a rare iOS game that can catch my attention and keep it for long. I've kept a few around, but I often grow bored with a game in a matter of days and delete it without ever getting very far. I really enjoy Sims-type games, but I find that their replay value tends to be low. Recently, however, I gave into trying yet another one—I'm not sure how long it'll stick around, but I am currently obsessed.


Pixel People is an adorable and witty world-building game. It's part Sims and part SimCity. The basic idea is to build a city called Utopia with clones. These clones, who you give professions by splicing together two already available genes, "come with" new city buildings. These make you money, which, in turn, you use to buy more land. (And so forth.)


The game doesn't require a whole lot of thought, but is entertaining nonetheless. I especially enjoy the occasional snark that comes along with specials screens. Take these for example:


(I marked off the clones' "recipes," so as to not spoil the game if you decide to try it out.)

Another thing I like about it: The game is a freemium one, but I've had it for a few days now and haven't felt like I'm behind because I haven't bought anything to help me along.

Have any of you tried this one? Does the newlywed period last longer than a week?

 

P.S.—My thoughts and love go out to the people in Boston yesterday who were affected by the Marathon bombings. I went to college in Massachusetts and have a lot of friends who still live in that area. Humans can be such bastards sometimes.

April 15, 2013

Haiku Review: The Host


The Host (****)

Aliens on earth
Humanity is hiding
Free will reigns supreme


POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD: I read the book version of The Host back in 2008 soon after it was first released (in no small part because of my Twilight-induced Stephenie Meyer love), and I enjoyed the book quite a lot. Although it features more than a few predictable plot twists and a love triangle—the love triangle isn't your typical YA one, and the interesting parts outweigh the predictable ones.

The movie version didn't disappoint. I obviously haven't read the book in a few years, so the story lines aren't completely fresh, but from what I remember, the movie covered them pretty well. If you haven't read the book, one of the main characters is actually two souls—one human, one alien—in one body. Translating the "voice in the head" bits could have come across on the big screen as really cheesy, but Saorise (which I only recently found out is pronounced SEER-sha; crazy Irish names) Ronan made it watchable. The girl has some serious skills when it comes to helping the audience feel what she's feeling as well; I definitely got choked up a few times.

The love triangle portion of the movie was a bit rushed, but the two guys involved—Max Irons as Jared and Jake Abel playing Ian—made it mostly believable. (I won't completely spoil the reason it was unusual.)

The best part of the film for me was the message. Director Andrew Niccol (who also directed one of my most favorite movies of all time, Gattaca) adapted the book for screen, and I think he did a great job of bringing out the interesting battle between the aliens and their human hosts. The idea of a parasitic alien race that takes over humanity relatively peacefully isn't brand new, but in The Host, human free will triumphs.