Monday, October 31, 2011

Dance Central 2: Way More Fun Than It Should Be

Cross-posted on and commissioned by Gaming Blend

Let's get something straight right off the bat. I don't dance. Maybe in middle school, alone in my room, to the jamming tunes of Christina Aguilera, or in college after a few drinks, but generally if someone offers up "going dancing" as an idea for an evening, I won't be that enthusiastic. Same for dancing games. Give me Guitar Hero or Rock Band and yes, I'm there, but dancing? In front of people? In a competitive situation? I just don't know, guys.

While I've never owned the first Dance Central, I gave it a go at E3 2010 to embarrassing results. Sure, my dance-inclined friends were having a great time, but I was nothing but stressed out and had to stop. So I was extremely skeptical then when stepping into Dance Central 2 - could someone who doesn't enjoy dancing glean joy from a dancing game? Somehow, miraculously, I did. Thanks to Dance Central 2 , I'm actually looking forward dancing. How is this possible?? Let's break it down.

First off, the game has significantly expanded since its first installment. There are three modes - the brand new Crew Challenge, Perform It, and an altered Fitness Mode.

Crew Challenge, a welcome addition, actually provides somewhat of a narrative to the game, a one-to-two-player campaign that follows the traditional Harmonix model of reaching a certain number of stars to get to the next level, but with the incentive of wanting to be accepted by the various dance crews around town. It culminates in taking down dancing robots created by an evil scientist. No, really. The campaign takes about 4 hours, 3 hours of which is straight dancing, so don't expect to beat it all in one night. The most I danced in a single sitting was to 10 songs and that was plenty. You know. With the cramping and what not. Beating the Crew Challenge opens up two new locations and four new characters, but if all you care about is dancing, you don't need to beat the challenge to open up any songs - they are all available from the get go in Perform It mode.

More after the jump
See full post

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kinect Sports Season 2: Safe, Family Fun

The notion of a basic sports package for a console with motion based technology is nothing new. Wii Sports revolutionized casual gaming and Kinect Sports Season One, noted mostly as simply Microsoft's response to Wii Sports, was fun enough, but nothing special. Kinect Sports Season Two certainly ups it game when it comes to using the Kinect technology and boasts a handful of new features, but does that make it worth the buy?

Kinect Sports Season Two offers six brand new sports, replacing bowling, boxing, track & field, table tennis, beach volleyball and soccer with football, golf, darts, tennis, baseball and skiing. Each sport has three difficulty modes, Rookie, Pro and Champion, with the option of playing solo, with friends, or trying out unique challenges like Ocean Driver or Home Run Hero. Whenever you finish a complete game, usually two innings for baseball, one to nine holes for golf, two rounds for darts, best two out of three for tennis and so on, the game awards you new "fans", who show up physically as avatars in the stands of anything you play, as well as points, depending on what and how you did during the course of that session. It also totals up your calories both for the specific game and the overall time you've been playing in one sitting. Knowing the end of a game would bring me fans, points, and most importantly a calorie count, motivated me to complete a full game, even if I wasn't totally sold on the controls (oh hi, Darts), which in some cases forced me to play long enough to actually understand and enjoy it (oh hi, Football!)

Although if you are playing with a group of people and want to try a selection of games, your best option is Quickplay. The game divides you into the red team and blue team, assigning a Kinect Sports mascot to each. Then a random sport or mini-game is selected (Want to change it? You have ten seconds to swipe your hand, turning the wheel to a new random game). Whichever team prevails gets a point, and Quickplay chooses a new sport right away. Your group of friends can keep playing, switching off who plays what with no worry about signing in or out, for as long as you like.

A fun addition that helped keep the game moving outside of Quickplay was allowing the entire menu, including menus within the game, to be controlled with only your voice. Hands down this is the best voice control I've seen with any Kinect title. Granted, it didn't work as well for my voice, but my male friend playing with me almost never had an issue getting the Xbox to follow his commands. I might be mildly offended by the Kinect's predeliction towards lower tambers, but I was handily impressed with how easily my cohort could work his way through a menu without ever lifting an arm. During the golf portion as he commanded the game to "Change Club" "Driver", I could almost picture a caddy running up and handing the new club to him, faithfully following orders. The voice command is also used naturally in football, with "Ready, Hike!" and skiiing with "Let's Go!" Having the option of controlling everything with your voice makes the experience feel eons more authentic.

Authenticity seems to be a theme with Kinect Sports Season Two. The environment created for each sport is incredibly specific, down to chants of "Olly olly olly! Oy oy oy!" in the bar where you are playing darts and murmers turning to shushes on the golf course. The theme song even changes slightly for each sport, putting you in even more of a prepared mind frame.

Maybe I've been playing a little too much Dance Central 2 lately, but my favorite component of Kinect Sports Season Two is the celebratory dancing. Do well, and you are asked to dance and your avatar gets a couple moments to do whatever it is you do, and I'm telling you, your avatar has the ability to mimic your movements to a tee. It was hilarious watching them copy our all too strange dance moves. The songs that play while you dance are actually better than the song selection in Dance Central 2. Go figure.

Perhaps the biggest improvement over Kinect Sports Season One is the tech, natch. Baseball especially seems incredibly intuitive, as well as responsive, but not overly so. Pitching in particular seemed to come naturally to anyone who took the mound. I could throw a ball fast or slow, curve or straight, left or right, with no problem. Playing tennis flows as if you're actually on the court and skiing can be handily mastered after one run. Golf I found a tad more confusing, as I could never quite figure out how to change the direction I was hitting in the ball in and darts takes some getting used to, but overall, the game is a lot more fun and and a helluva lot less frustrating than Season One was.

A big complaint I often hear about the Kinect is while it's superior technically than the Wii or PS Move for something like dancing, where you shouldn't have to hold anything, it's less than ideal for sports based games, when you naturally want something in your hands, like a baseball bat or golf club. The thing people tend to forget here is that if you want to hold an actual tennis racket when you play, you can, the game picks it up just as easily as it picks up your hand pretending to hold a tennis racket.

But as fun as this all was, I don't really see myself coming back to the game very often. As I don't have any friends with a Kinect, I can't very well take advantage of the Challenge feature, where you play a sport and send your time to a friend to see how they match up. And if I'm going to use the Kinect to work out, Dance Central 2 is my choice, which I've played every day since I got it. And no, I don't generally like dancing. In terms of getting the whole family involved, or a group of friends under the age of 13, yes, Kinect Sports Season 2 is a must buy, but outside of that demographic, it has little to offer but harmless fun. Well, "harmless" might be stretching it. I'd be lying if I said my arms weren't a bit achy. Ultimately, I'd much rather dedicate my video game time to a slew of other titles. But if this type of thing is up your alley and you can guarantee playing it more than once or twice, then Kinect Sports Season Two should certainly be in your library.

Players: 1-4
Platforms: Xbox 360
Developer: Rare and Big Park Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
ESRB: "E" for Everyone
Rating: 3.5 Stars See full post

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Best Finds of New York Comic Con 2011

It's becoming somewhat of a trend here to give you guys the rundown of the best purchases and giveaways available at the major Conventions held across the country. We began with Wondercon, continued with Comic-Con, and now we present our first New York Comic Con edition. I'll think you'll agree that the Dealer's Room offerings here were especially impressive.

Walking Dead Merch: Lunchbox
Every time I go to a Convention, I buy the newest merchandise for The Walking Dead (Comic). This has resulted in my owning multiple pins and bracelets, a hoodie, a board game, and now, a lunchbox, which I used to protect all of the stickers I got from the floor, including one listed below. The guys at the booth now recognize me, but even knowing the fellas working the booth can't get you a sold out copy of the Rise of the Governor book without specifically requesting they hold one for you beforehand. Luckily, the book can be picked up in any comic book store, so I'm not devastated, but still, would have been nice to have something awesome to read on the flight home. If you dig collecting lunch boxes like I don't, but I bought one anyway, head to the TFAW site November 2nd.

One of the Entertainment Earth exclusives, this "Tin Tote" (okay FINE it's also a lunchbox), isn't available anywhere else until January. But I snatched one up during preview night and will be giving it as a gift to a Dr Who loving friend this winter. When the time comes, you can get one for yourself here.

Harry Potter Tote/Dumbledore Bottle Opener
Perhaps my favorite purchase of the entire convention was this tote bag that reads Mooney & Wormtail & Padfoot & Prongs and if you don't know what that means, I am sad for you. @eruditechick also picked up this design in Gryffindor colors on a t-shirt. This same booth also offered multiple designs that could be printed on a button, bottle opener, or pocket mirror, so naturally I got Dumbledore Is My Homeboy for a Dumbledore loving friend of mine. Other designs included Winter is Coming, with the Stark sigil, which I saw tons of ladies wearing on Sunday, and Keep Calm and Call The Doctor. To peruse all of these items, head to Evie's Tees on ETSY. Complete shirt collection sold at NYCC can be seen here.


Attack the Block Signed Art Print
Definitely my favorite freebie of the convention, this art print was being given out at the Attack the Block DVD panel, which featured director Joe Cornish, and actors John Boyega and Luke Treadway. All three stayed until the bitter end to make sure every single person in the audience got their poster signed. I could never get my hands on a poster tube, so to get it home safe, I carried it with me for my entire airport and airplane experience.

Kill Shakespeare Buttons/Shirts
Whether you are a fan of the comic or not, all of the brand new Kill Shakespeare merchandise was one of the highlights of the floor. Merely being a fan of Shakespeare is enough to appreciate the wide variety of shirts and Heroes/Villains button collection.

Marvel Toki Dokis
I'm late to the game on this one, as friends of mine @eruditechick and @e_sophia got the bulk of their Marvel Toki Dokis at Comic-Con, but better late than never! Buy two blind boxes for $10, and hope you get the Marvel character you want! The first two I opened were Hulk and Iron Man, which I almost thought was too good to be true. Bought two more just in case they would somehow be Cap and Thor. They weren't, they were Spidey and Vision, but eryn_sophia, lucky enough to have two Caps, traded me  to add Vision to her collection. All I really need now is a Thor and well, okay, a Wolverine, but am I willing to buy blind box after blind box til I get them? Only time Wondercon will tell....

Avengers Character Shirts
When I first got my hands on one of the Avengers shirts being given out at New York Comic Con, I thought they were just shirts that said Avengers on them. Little did I know, each one had a different design on the back, one for each Avenger. Apparently the one given out on Thursday was for Thor, which I was fine with, considering he is the only Avenger I don't own in Toki Doki form :). Head to Ebay for character shirts for Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Man and Hulk...though suspiciously none for Cap or Thor.

Bioshock Sticker
I bought a round of these at NYCC last year and was THRILLED to see the booth back again in 2011, so I could buy even more. Simple, to the point, and a must own for any Bioshock fan. Get one for yourself from the Sanshee website.

Game of Thrones/Community/Lost Character Cards
Yehudi Mercado made a splash on the internets this summer when he created prints of Muppets as Game of Thrones characters. At his NYCC booth, where he was selling his graphic novel Buffalo Speedway, he was offering a deal - buy a graphic novel, and get a set of these cards. I couldn't resist. I bought a graphic novel and walked away with my very own set. You can buy a book/get the cards by heading to Mercardo's website. Not into Game of Thrones? You can choose sets from Community or Lost instead if you're so inclined.

Captain America Martini Glasses
One of our favorite booths on the entire floor was called simply "Fangirls" and all of their items are decoupaged with classic comics. Jewelery, furniture, household goods, headbands, really anything you could think of was plastered with reminders of the golden age. But our favorite items were these martini glasses, sold as a set for $15. They marked one of our first purchases of the Con and remained one of our best decisions of the entire weekend.

The Stan
I mean, I'd never wear it, but it's pretty genius. From the folks over at Thwipster, a Groupon-like site focusing on items for the Geek.

For more fun items on the floor, including the adorbz Geek Treats Bakery, plus cosplay and Tom Hiddleston ::swoon:: head to the All Things Fangirl flickr account. See full post

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NYCC '11: Top Ten Moments of the Avengers Panel

Crossposted on

Saturday night in the IGN Theater at New York Comic Con, a little bit of magic happened. The magic might have occurred 40 minutes behind schedule, but no one in that room had anywhere to be that mattered more. For the first time ever, the Avengers were assembling at a Convention where they were actually allowed to do things like speak. And, I gotta say, it was almost worth the wait. The interaction between this panel with each other, with moderator extraordinaire Chris Hardwicke and with the audience, was electrically charged, all around. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen cast members on a convention panel get along this well, get each other this much, make the audience laugh to such an extent. And Hardwicke definitely deserves some of the credit for this by keeping things moving, making sure everyone got to talk, asking the right questions, making the perfect jokes, and knowing how to calm down an occasionally feisty fan audience. Credit is also due to Kevin Feige for hiring Joss Whedon, who clearly took care of his actors and made the set a fun and comfortable place to shoot.

10. When an audience member asked who had the most difficult costume to get into, the resounding answer was Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. But the question led to a discussion on how during the battle scenes, Scarlett and Jeremy would be in their leather, Hemsworth in his Asgardian armor, Evans in his iconic suit, and Mark Ruffalo in “spotted grey pajamas.” Since Hulk was captured through mo-cap and his performance, Ruffalo pointed out that he is the only actor to ever play both Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Cue resounding applause.
9. In classic convention form, a small child requested that the superheros recite something. It did wonders for Ryan Reynolds when he recited Green Lantern’s oath at 2010′s Comic-Con and it was pretty bad-ass Saturday when the cast appearing from the Avengers said “Avengers Assemble!”
8. This audience had no idea what was in store for them with Clark Gregg. The man is hilarious, charming, smart as hell, witty, personable, a great storyteller, and he absolutely wowed us with his spunk and savvy. When each actor was asked who their favorite male and female superheroes are and everyone replied with an Avenger and either Black Widow or Maria Hill, Gregg elicited a sudden rush of impressed murmurs by name checking Warlock. Later, he described walking into the Helicarrier for the first time and seeing all the Avengers dressed up and ready to shoot as like being a part of the Make a Wish Foundation, just impossible that this sort of dream would be coming true. His best moment? Singing his own version of the Avengers theme song. He was responsible for a lot more amazing moments on the panel, listed below, but we would remiss if we didn’t single him out as being fan-effing-tastic on a Con panel.

7. Chris Evans, being the shy guy that he is? I’m guessing. Because he came wearing a hat and wouldn’t take it off and seemed to be trying to hide the entire time. Granted, when he lifted his hat up for a brief moment, we could see the terrible hat hair he was so reluctant to show, but still. What was happening, Chris? Still, it led to this priceless exchange:

Lady audience member: Take off your hat!
Chris Hardwicke: Did – Don’t order these people around! (laughter from the audience)
Every woman in the room in a high pitched voice, I’m not kidding: Pllleeeeeeaaaaassseee (even more laughter)
Unfortunately he never did remove the hat. Ah well.
6. There were definitely some How I Met Your Mother fans in the audience! When Cobie Smulders was introduced, multiple members of the audience yelled out “Robin Sparkles!” She loved it, then jokingly made it clear that she would not be singing. Unexpectedly the audience started to boo, as if to pressure her to sing a Robin Sparkles song out of nowhere. But Chris Hardwicke in a legendary move, said to us with a smile, “Nerds, nerds, she’s a guest in your home!” and everyone shut up. Amazing.
5. When discussing how he approached Bruce Banner, Ruffalo noted that he borrowed bits from all of the previous Hulks, though this one is definitely in a different place from Ed Norton’s take on the character. “This is going to be a more mature Banner, who understands a little bit what he has under the hood, so to speak. I had to pay homage, but then I had to ‘Ruffalize it’” Immediately, “Ruffalizing it” became an inside joke between the panel and the audience, was used three more times, and by the end, Hardwicke predicted the word would make it on to Urban Dictionary by the end of the day. Sadly, it hasn’t yet made the leap to Urban Dictionary. Probably because I’m not sure any of us could *actually* define the phrase.
4. The winner of New York Comic Con? Tom Hiddleston. The total unexpected star of the Avengers panel, it was Hiddleston who got asked the most questions and had the most girls swooning, not Chris Evans, so much so that when the third, then fourth question in a row was for him, the audience couldn’t help but crack up. From his smooth accent to his articulate answers and overwhelming knowledge of Loki, from top to bottom, he was perfection. When told he looked like Gene Wilder, he even sang some Willy Wonka, showing off his beautiful voice. When Chris Evans was finally asked a question after the string of ones for Tom, he got befuddled and finally said “I don’t know man, I got lost in Tom’s love. What was the question again, was it about Tom? I love Tom too.” Plus, he emphasized multiple times that he made it his mission to make Loki as human and relatable as possible – that’s why Loki worked so well in Thor and why I’m positive he will be amazing in The Avengers. Give me a villain I sort of like and sort of want to hug and sort of want to see win over a scene chewing megalomaniac any day of the week.
3. We were told over and over how much these guys love each other and what a great time they had on set, which every cast says, but I gotta say, you could practically feel the camaraderie vibrating off of these folks. At one point an extra thanked Chris and Tom for giving them the “greatest experience” of their lives in Cleveland. A bunch of giggles and sneaky looks from Chris and Tom followed. As did my face turning bright red with jealousy. But the best stories came when they talked about The Albuquerque Nightclub. Apparently there was only one night when the entire cast was actually in town, so they went to a nightclub and got crazy.
Clark: Albuquerque may never recover from that evening.
Chris: I don’t think any of us will ever recover from that evening.
Tom: Yeah that was a fun night.
Chris: MAN, that was a fun night.
Tom: I remember!
Chris: You remember?!
Tom then told a story about how everyone was on the dance floor getting crazy except for the two Chris’. He then, doing an impression of each Chris, shared this exchange he overheard.
Evans (pointing to a muscle): But how do you get this here?
Hemsworth (completely casual): I don’t know, mate, just work out and stuff?
“Two brothers in arms” Hiddleston said in reference to the two Chris’. Then Gregg stepped in with a story of his own. There was another party in the VIP room and at one point, the room sort of opened up a bit to reveal ScarJo dancing her face off. Gregg noticed the birthday boy glance over, see her, and stop dead cold in his tracks, unable to speak. But the best part of this story gets its own placement.
2. This same night, before going out, Evans sent out what Gregg deemed “the best text message of his life” to every member of the team. It simply read “Assemble.”
1. But what makes a panel filled with charming actors being hilarious and wonderful all the better? When the footage can back it up. An entire scene between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner was screened and silenced a few haters in the process. The dialogue is snappy, the characters are well defined, the action is tight, the twists are genuinely unexpected – it has Joss written all over it in a way that reminds me why I loved him so much to begin with. If this scene is any indication of the entire film, we are in for a real treat. Although hearing Kevin Feige say that it’s Joss’ movie because he wrote it, directed it and is editing it, makes me nervous that he is preemptively passing the “blame” rather than giving proper credit. Please be as good as this clip and this panel makes it seem like it will be. I beg of you.

Watch the whole panel here
See full post

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What To Do & See At New York Comic-Con!

This weekend brings us another New York Comic Con, expanding over four full days for the first time ever. An extra day means more panels and more time in one of my favorite Con Dealer's Rooms around. So what should you make sure to do and see with your time? Here's our handy guide, after the jump!

See full post

Friday, October 7, 2011

Geek Girl Con THIS WEEKEND!!

This weekend is the first ever Geek Girl Con in Seattle and I am EPIC UPSET that I will not be there.

What IS Geek Girl Con, you ask?

From the press kit,

What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the term geek? The boy who always knows the answers in math class? The men who wear their favorite super hero
emblazoned on their t-shirts? Or would it be of a woman? A woman who shares the same love for science, whether fact or fiction; can spout Tolkien’s Elvish; or who loves
to frag a few n00bs after work just as much as her male counterpart. Her image is not synonymous with geek, but that’s all about to change. GeekGirlCon is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of both the current and historic involvement and contributions of women in all aspects of Geek culture.

Comprised of a group of volunteers, GeekGirlCon is an unapologetic coming together celebrating the female geek and is a convention that welcomes all ages, races, sexual orientations, genders and gender identities, creeds, physical and mental abilities, and familial statues. We are a gathering for the trekkie, the mathlete, the gamer, the otaku, the braniac, the engineer -- a home base where all tastes of geekdom can be sampled and savored. We are GeekGirlCon.

We know what it’s like to be the egg-heads, the nerds, the dorks. We know that confused expression when we accidentally ask if anyone saw the last Doctor Who episode or mention that we spent our weekend raiding dungeons. We get it. You’re a different kind of woman. But you are not alone.

On October 8th and 9th, 2011 at the Seattle Center Northwest Rooms in Seattle, Washington, GeekGirlCon will be an unprecedented event that will allow geek females to congregate, mingle, and share facts and fandoms with geek girls of all kinds. We want to meet you. We want to make this dream and our first annual convention a reality. To put it simply: Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to visit and join us. With support, attendance, and donations, we can make this happen. Help us, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope.

And according to the website, Geek Girl Con has *all* the classic Con staples like craft workshops, tabletop game tournaments, a masquerade, signings, a stellar programming line up featuring discussions on everything you could imagine and a dealer's room, plus some extra special events like Whedonesque Burleqsue and a GeekGirlConcert featuring Molly Lewis, Marian Call and the Doubleclicks.

Everything about this convention screams professionalism, fun, and comradery. The venue where the event is being held this year is unavailable next year, so the group is currently looking for a new location for 2012. I REALLY want to go next year, so if you know of a place in Seattle that can accommodate up to 2,000 people, get in touch with the folks at Geek Girl Con and make it happen!

And if you are attending the Convention this weekend, PLEASE tweet at me about it, link me to write ups and live blogs and photo albums! This Con sounds truly amazing and I can't wait to hear all about how it went and how much fun all you ladies had there.

For those of you who found this website from our All Things Fangirl bookmarks in the Geek Girl Con swag bags, welcome! We're thrilled to have you as a new reader :). Just head here to apply to join our Fangirl Academy. See full post

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Set Your DVRS And Watch This Doc! Miss Representation. Oct 20th.

On October 20th at 9/8c the OWN network will be airing a documentary you *all* need to watch called Miss Representation.

The subject matter is simple - the way media represents women is fucking up women. You may be thinking "I knew that already." You know, I "knew that already" too, but it wasn't until I watched this doc that the facts really connected with me on a deeper level. I walked out of the theater immediately more aware, as if I got plugged in to a computer, Matrix style, and caring about the role of women in media was downloaded as something I would become both knowledgeable and passionate about.

I like how Dan Fienberg over at Hitfix describes what issue the film deals with best,
The treatment of women in popular culture and the mass media is disgraceful and due to the perpetual objectification of women and due to particularly heinous treatment of women in leadership roles, a vicious cycle is created, denying young girls of aspirational figures outside of certain hyper-sexualized molds and perpetuating damaging social norms through the generations.

The film was made by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, former actress and current wife to Lt Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, who makes an appearance in the film. And sure, it can be didactic and a little too personal in an off topic kind of way at times - it's not perfect, by any means, but the message is strong and gets across in a clear and concise way. The biggest idea I took away from it was that media literacy should be taught in schools right alongside book analysis. The more young girls can understand what they are seeing and gain insight into the filmmakers motivations, the easier they can dissect it as a piece of fiction and prevent themselves from making unhealthy comparisons.

No matter your gender, I highly encourage watching this doc and showing your daughters, your sons, your husbands, your wives, your neighbors, your friends, and of course anyone in a position to bring it to wider audiences, whether in the classroom or at a movie theater. While I definitely think multiple strides have been taken in the representation of women on television with more and more strong and secure female leads popping up every year, we have a long way to go in many other areas.

So please, for yourself, for me, for Newsom and everyone featured in her documentary (Which include Katie Couric, Rosario Dawson, Rachel Maddow, Paul Haggis, Nancy Pelosi, Margaret Cho, Condoleeza Rice, Catherine Hardwicke, Dianne Feinstein, Gavin Newsom, Geena Davis, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Lisa Ling) and for the future, watch Miss Representaion on OWN October 20th. If you'd like to see in theaters, the Paley Center is holding a screening in NYC Oct 14th with director Newsom in person, and in Los Angeles Oct 17th. To organize your own screening, head here. See full post

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sailing Away on a Tide of Booze

Fan outreach and transmedia have become increasingly important to fans of genre media in the past few years. One of the companies that has been at the head of the pack since day one is HBO, so much so that the promotional cruise they hosted with LivingSocial to celebrate the second season of historical drama Boardwalk Empire seems nothing more than the next logical step.

The next awesome, logical step.

I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to the day cruise that left from a dock on Manhattan's east side, just a few blocks south of the ancient and revered Water Club. The day was overcast but bright and unseasonably warm, and as I filed onto the yacht I was pleased to see a lot of people had embraced the spirit of the occasion and dressed accordingly. Unfortunately, I had naught by camera phone to capture the fun with, but capture it I did.

Upon stepping onto the deck of the ship, I was greeted by smartly dressed shipmen and given a glass tumblr inscribed the Living Social logo. There was a long deco counter to my right, bearing all the silver containers that would hold the classic Americana dinner to be served later. Straight ahead of me was a Blackjack table.

That's where I would end up spending most of my ride.

Tables circled a wooden dance floor and a band in tuxes loitered around a piano, playing hits of the 20s and 30s as people found places to lounge. There was a bar in back, a backdrop for photos in front, and a second level.

Up the circling chrome staircase was a lounge where you could watch cigars being rolled, then partake of them, and out on the open air part of the deck was a whiskey tasting station. That was where I would end up rounding out my cruise.

The crew from LivingSocial were kind enough to chat to me about how excited they were for the whole idea of excursion events being partnered with media, since they're all big nerds who watch Boardwalk and True Blood and Game of Thrones.

Though if there's a Game of Thrones cruise, I can't imagine it being quite this pleasant. Anyway.

So there were drinks at the open bar, which were delightful. There was a strange, catty girl who gave me attitude because the bartender turned to me before her. I think she thought there was a line. It's a bar, sweetheart, not a booze dispensary, and also, I was waiting at it before you moseyed your horse face on over, so just chill.

I took my wine over to the Black Jack table and sat down to a delightful lesson from NYC's School of Cards. The table filled quickly and we bet big, since we'd all been given substantial piles of chips to play with. The games weren't live, just friendly and instructional, but the spirit was of a bunch of high rollers. It's amazing how fun it is to double down when it's not real money.

There was an old fashioned popcorn popper next to a bank of couches that people frequently went to for a fresh bag. I refrained, since there was prime rib and then a chocolate fountain with a wide array of fruit. As the dinner service wound down, the band kicked it up a notch, there was singing involved, and some people danced. I was too busy drinking and fake gambling, but it was fun to watch.

Then there was entertainment. Leading up the playing of the premier of Boardwalk Empire's season two trailer, we were graced with a burlesque tap performance by a performer straight out of Babette's. Tap dancing is much more enjoyable when there is stripping involved. 

Her hair was flawless and remained so even once the performance was done. Aces.

The Boardwalk Empire trailer was revealed, and both the crew and passengers watched with rapt attention. Everyone's favorite character made an appearance and once the footage was done, people took immediately to discussing what was bound to happen to whom over the course of the season.

Eventually I went upstairs and talked to some other passengers about what drawn them to the cruise, if they were Boardwalk fans or had just stumbled across the LivingSocial invite and jumped at the idea of the cruise. It was a surprisingly even survey of real fans and people who had just seen it, caught the theme, and thought it might be fun. Everyone agreed that they were pleased with the size of the event- more people and it would have felt overcrowded and like the point was to make a buck, instead of provide a cool experience.

Frankly, the concept is brilliant. LivingSocial has already created a great new idea with their Excursions and Adventures, one a bargain system for exploratory trips away and one for active, involving experiences. Pairing up with HBO seems like an incredibly smart and potentially lucrative endeavor for both companies.

So and then there was whiskey.

I drank a lot of it.

A lot.

There was a silver cup for spitting it out. I didn't.

The whiskey somelier, which I do not know what his actual title is but it's fine, cuz whiskey, walked us through five varieties including scotch and rye, giving us a history of how each bottle was made and where they originated from. Peat and dirt were discussed but I don't honestly remember under what circumstances. It was delicious, though, and I can only assume high informative as well.

This chick showed up halfway through, which was nice. 

All in all, it was a lovely time. Hopefully HBO will work this relationship like woah and do some sort of tundra horse riding Stark themed trip. If they do, I'm going.

In all seriousness, the only way to improve upon this experience would have been to go bigger. The boat was nice but not opulent. Of course, the cost of opulent would be considerably higher than what the tickets were going for on LivingSocial. Still, it makes me yearn for more exclusive, themed opportunities of this nature.

Or really, any excuse to get dressed up and drink on a boat.
See full post

On Sale Today! Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World

We're very excited about today's release of Geek Girls Unite, a fun and informative reference book of sorts, meant to inspire geek girls everywhere to be proud of who they are, gain insight in other areas fellow ladies are geeking out over, and feel motivated to seek out like minded women. Despite some quibbles I may have had with certain sections, ultimately, the book succeeds. And I'm extremely honored that our little blog, All Things Fangirl, is featured as suggested web reading in the Fangirl Geek section. Completely unsolicited and beyond appreciated, it's a gesture we won't soon forget. For anyone who finds us thanks to this book, we hope you like what you read and enjoy becoming a member of our community.

My full review of Geek Girls Unite can be found later today on See full post

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October at the Movies

After a fascinating September filled with great movies (Drive), awful movies (Abduction) and a whole lot of in between, plus the triumphant return of Lion King to theaters, we move in to October on a bit of movie high. After the collection of strong Sept 30th releases, I expect audiences to be even more jazzed for the remainder of the fall releases. October especially boasts an eclectic mix of films, representing horror, Oscar potential, long awaited festival darlings and more. Oh and a lot of remakes/sequels. A lot. The breakdown below.

Looking for some scares?

Human Centipede 2 (Oct 7)
The sequel to the 2009 surprise cult hit, Human Centipede, but with what sounds like double the meta and triple the disgusting, Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is about a man who becomes "sexually obsessed" with the first Human Centipede film (often masturbating with sandpaper to it...), so he decides to create his own in real life, but with twelve people, instead of three. I might throw up just describing the plot.

Am I seeing it? Ummmm. I refuse to even watch a trailer for the first Human Centipede, sooooo. I'm gonna go with absolutely not.

The Thing (Oct 14)
The remake/prequel of the beloved John Carpenter flick is finally coming to theaters, after being delayed from Spring release. I have a soft spot for the original, which simultaneously makes me curious about this film and dread it. I hate the idea of audiences seeing the "blood test" scene for the first time in this version and not the Carpenter one. Granted, my generation most likely got introduced to this genre and that type of scene with The Faculty, but still. Ain't no alien testing scene like a Carpenter Thing alien testing scene.

Am I seeing it? I'm curious, so I'm not opposed. It may just end up happening on blu-ray instead.

The Skin I Live In (Oct 14)
The latest from oft genius Pedro Almodóvar about a plastic surgeon experimenting with a new type of synthetic skin, that I'm sure will be every bit as disturbing at that one sentence suggests. This is the man who directed Talk to Her after all. I've heard it's not his best, but still worth seeing and is as close to a B horror film as Almodóvar has gotten, in the best way possible.

Am I seeing it? Definitely

More after the jump!

See full post

Et tu, Wilco?

This is less of a review and more of a whimpering rant. You've been warned.

The cover (shown above) might be my favorite thing about Wilco's new album The Whole Love. After a few days of listening to the album, taking a break, and listening to it again, I'm ready to declare it a disastrous disappointment. It's been a year of disappointing albums from my favorite bands (read this) and my frustration has turned into fatigue. I'm tired of getting excited about an upcoming album, tired of eagerly waiting for it to download, and oh so tired of listening to it and feeling my face slowly droop with each track. Like, I can't properly write a legitimate critique of The Whole Love without grooooooaning. So please excuse my lethargy as I present, instead of a review, a list of why The Whole Love is causing me a whole lot of disdain:

-The first and last songs on the album ("Art of Almost" and "One Sunday Morning") are actually good. They're just sandwiched between lameness.

-Musically, the album is all over the map and totally directionless. You don't lose yourself in the album; you feel lost.

-Lyrically, the album is simply unimpressive. Or rather, the lyrics don't stand out amidst the uninspiring music. And I'm a lyrics girl...I'm listening carefully! On "Born Alone" Tweedy sings: "Sadness is my luxury." Really? Well thanks for passing it on and making my listening experience so luxurious!

-Every song sounds like it belongs on one of their past albums, as if the album is a collection of b-sides. Except not good b-sides.

-Wilco released this album themselves on their own brand new label. It's a total fail for their first attempt. They need to try again.

-I loved Wilco's 2007 release Sky Blue Sky so I know they still have it in them to make an awesome album. There's absolutely no excuse for the mediocrity and aimlessness of The Whole Love .

-I kept hoping to be moved, like I usually am with Wilco, but nothing I heard stirred me emotionally. The album isn't horrible but it is bad by Wilco standards. I have high expectations for them because they've earned it. This time, they just didn't live up to their potential.

That's it. Now I'm feeling gloomy. I'm going to clean out my ears and cheer myself up by listening to "Jesus, Etc." on repeat. See full post

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I love Marjane Satrapi

I know it's the first day of October but I'm already looking forward to November when The Sigh, Marjane Satrapi's new graphic novel, will be released by Archaia Entertainment.

But actually, even before November, you can catch the book's debut in a couple of weeks at New York Comic Con! I absolutely adore Satrapi's ridiculously awesome and super popular Persepolis I and II. I can't properly express my eagerness to get my hands on her new book. If it's half as beautifully written and illustrated as Persepolis, I will feel as though my expectations have been met.

Check back here at ATFG in November for a review of The Sigh! See full post

Lesser America's Too Much Too Soon

Presented by the young but already acclaimed theater company, Lesser America, and co-produced by Red Elevator Productions, Too Much Too Soon is a collection of short plays by a group of fresh, emerging playwrights.

A sequel to last years Too Little Too Late (which earned three New York Innovative Theater Award nominations), Too Much Too Soon promises to be an excitingly diverse event. Having loved the intense play Squealer, I'm eager to catch another Lesser America show. Too Much Too Soon opened last night and has a limited release at the Theater for the New City so make sure to catch it while you can!

Too Much Too Soon
Directed by: Stephen Brackett and Portia Krieger
Featuring work written by: Nikole Beckwith, Dean Imperial, Nick Jones, Melissa Ross, Emily Schwend, and Ken Urban
Staring: Daniel Abeles, Liesel Allen Yeager, Craig Jorczak, Nate Miller, Anna O'Donoghue, and Laura Ramadei

Performance Schedule:
October 2 at 3pm
October 6-8th at 8pm
October 9th at 3pm

Theater for the New City
155 1st Avenue (between 9th & 10th Streets)
New York, NY

$15 general, $10 students

For more information and tickets, go here. See full post