All posts by cary

(Saying Goodbye) and #Listmas2014: Geeky Gifts

There are times for flourish and rhetoric, and there are times for straight talk. It’s with the latter in mind (and, okay, maybe a little of the former) that, with this, my final post, I bid a misty-eyed farewell to Geek Force Network. Writing for this site has been among my most enjoyable tasks since this whole wonderful conglomeration began. Unfortunately, the duties of real life have been calling out strongly for me lessen my online workload, and I can no longer avoid the call. To my GFN partners-in-crime and everyone who’s followed me here, you have my utmost appreciation. You all truly made GFN into one of the most awesome sites on the Internet, and I’ve certainly enjoyed one hell of a happy ride.

One of best best things about writing for GFN was that we were given carte blanche to write about whatever we wanted. It’s in that spirit and all the holiday-ness that I figured I’d make this goodbye post into a  #Listmas2014 post (because it’s just the right thing to do), and offer up some of my favorite geeky gifts that I’ve come across over the past year.

Continue reading (Saying Goodbye) and #Listmas2014: Geeky Gifts

#Listmas2014: The Lesser of Two Evils in Christmas Music

I have a pretty high tolerance for Christmas music. Every December, I regularly cycle through my few Christmas playlists, and if you happen to catch me knitting, baking, or doing something homey, I’m probably listening to or humming a holiday tune. I find the vast majority of holiday hits very likeable, from religious hymns to novelty songs. So as my head has been filled with mostly holiday tunes of late, I thought about covering a few here for #Lismas2014. But rather than go the simple “most favorite” or “least favorite” routes, I’m taking a more circuitous path. It’s true that plenty of unpleasant holiday music has been released over the airwaves since Christmas music became a thing to sell to the masses, but there are levels to the unpleasantness. While my ears will welcome almost any Christmas song, I’m averse to certain versions of some songs. The songs on the list don’t constitute my favorites, if I must listen to them, their versions mean the difference between reluctant acceptance and nails on a chalkboard.

Continue reading #Listmas2014: The Lesser of Two Evils in Christmas Music

Future Retro

My pre-teen niece recently celebrated another birthday. Prior to the festivities, I asked her what she was hoping to get.

“A typewriter!” came the enthusiastic response.

Taken aback, I paused. “Like… a computer?”

“No…a typewriter,” she repeated as if I had become deaf, and dumb.

“Oh. A typewriter. But why?” I queried.

She didn’t skip a beat. “Because they are cool.”

Well, duh.

Still, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the image of an young, modern girl sitting down to formulate a document via and old-fashioned typewriter, but what did I know. The fact that she even knew what a typewriter was floored me. But it became a strangely proud moment as I considered “hey, my niece knows what a typewriter is! Take that iPad society!”

It also got me thinking about the notion of “future retro,” which I might have just made up or might actually be a thing. Either way, when I say “future retro” I mean: what items of the recent past may someday become the “cool” things of the future? Like, will vintage-minded folks someday seek out “rare” 2014 skinny jeans? It’s a funny thought when applied to culture generally and in the present, but being “vintage” nowadays is serious business. Blame the cosplay geeks, hipsters, steampunk aficionadas if you like (I know I do), but lots of paraphernalia from whatever “good ol’ days” of your choosing has come back in style – from Victorian household goods such as typewriters to 1950s cookware. It begs the question, “What ‘future retro’ goods might my niece’s descendants someday seek out and call ‘cool’?” Here are a few ideas.

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Watches/clocks

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Watches are staples in any jewelry display, but are they truly a necessity anymore? Same goes for clocks – wall clocks, alarm clocks, grandfather clocks! When was the last time you bought one? For many people now, cell phones are their watches and clocks. Why spend the extra money onannoying artifacts that need batteries and are set wrong more often than not when you have a cell phone that can give you the most accurate time possible? Watches have become status symbols more than anything. And clocks, analog clocks…we’ll, they are cool to look at, but everyone knows that kids can’t tell time these days. It’s not hard to imagine a future vintage shop filled to the brim with these old-fashioned time-telling devices.

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Landline phones

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In a junk drawer somewhere, I have an old, beige, and very plastic landline phone. I’m pretty sure it came from the likes of Radio Shack and cost no more than fifteen dollars. It’s hard for me to consider that something like that ugly phone might be considered “cool” again, but it could happen! Of course, there are plenty of better-looking landline phones out there now and from the past, so the notion of being “cool” is relative. Regardless, there’s no doubt that landline phones will become a thing of the past. Which means they’ll become the kitsch of the future. Shoot, I bet those classic see-through phones from the 1980s will fetch millions! Or…maybe there will just be millions of them available. Either way, they’re bound to come back in fashion, even if there are used only as decoration.

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Point-and-shoot cameras

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Despite repeated attempts to attain one as a birthday or Christmas gift in high school, I never received my own camera. Well, I know I’ll be able to rectify that in forty years because the vintage shops will be full of those little point-and-shoot babies! In the not so distant past, point-and-shoot cameras were dime-a-dozen, and they came in as many styles as there are stars in the sky! Right now, many photo enthusiasts are favoring older style cameras, early 20th century models completed with glass slides, black sheets, and flash bulbs the size of small animals. So it’s only a matter of time before the point-and-shoot  film guzzlers enters the realm of vintage rediscovery. And never mind the film, because our future selves will no doubt be well-versed in the ways of retrofitting and repurposing.

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What instances of recent past or current tech do you think will become the retro goodies of the future?


Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday; and you can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play, United We Game, and 8bit Kitchen.

I don’t like blueberry bagels, and other arbitrary food musings

Note: This is a non sequiter-ish follow up to my post “Giving in to holiday food indulgences.” I wrote the posts together, but I held off on publishing this one because it seemed too nonsensical to place after my neatly structured list. Now that I’m staring at a kitchen that’s slowly filling up with “holiday food,” this post matches perfectly with incoherent and food-filled madness of the weeks ahead.

When I was in grad school, one of my professors once said, “There are only three kinds of bagels in this world: plain, poppy seed, and sesame.” Well… two out of three ain’t bad. But my dislike of poppy seed bagels (too many damn seeds to get stuck in your teeth!) reaches nowhere near the height of my abhorrence for blueberry bagels. Oh, I’ve tried to quell my hatred – just the other week I purposefully added two blueberry bagels to my grocery store stash just to see if my opinion had softened. Nope. They were still yucky. I think it has to do with the fact that they don’t taste at all like blueberries. In fact, I really don’t care for any baked goods that contain blueberries – muffins, scones, cookies, cakes, pies, even pancakes. Not only is the blueberry flavor never all that pronounced in these items, but it seems that they end up extra sweet to make up for that lack of taste. Plus, when you cook blueberries, they tend to disintegrate into mush. When I want blueberries, I want that extra-fresh *pop* of flavor that only comes from them being fresh. I can handle fresh blueberries in salad or on top of cereal or oatmeal. But in a bagel? Never.

Continue reading I don’t like blueberry bagels, and other arbitrary food musings

Playing Television Catch-Up

We’ve made it to another day-after Thanksgiving, and folks, I am beat. I mean, no offense to the wild turkeys that roam our neighborhood, but this past week, I’ve been running around like a no-headed turkey doing this, that, and everything in between. Now that turkey day is over (and I hope you all enjoyed a good one), I’m relaxing in my warm, comfortable recliner and catching up on a number of TV shows that I’ve lost track of over the past couple months. I’ve seen the stray show here and there, but can now, with a little time off, indulge in a moderate amount of binge-watching to fully get back in the television game. Here’s what’s on my viewing plate at the moment.

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Gotham © DC Entertainment, Primrose Hill Productions, Warner Bros. Television (2014)

Gotham just completed the first half of its first season, and have to say that I…I just don’t know. I want so badly to like it more than I do, but more often than not after watching, I find myself puzzled and confused. In what the show has given the world so far, I see shades of Almost Human (displaced buddy cop elements), the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (nonsensical boredom), and early Heroes (a few stand-out roles). Thankfully, the show has eliminated much of the camp that strained some of its early episodes. (If you’re going to be campy then be campy. Don’t half-ass it in favor misleading everyone.) Unfortunately, the camp seems to have been replaced by blatant overacting, so I’m not sure which is worse. I remain hopeful that the show will find its stride, because when it’s good, Gotham is very good. But when it’s bad, it’s horrible. At this point, I could live with Gotham focusing completely on the Bruce Wayne/Alfred dynamic, as they are both pretty phenomenal characters (and actors). Maybe that’s what it should have done in the first place.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. © ABC, Disney (2013)
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. © ABC, Disney (2013)

Meanwhile, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to make me happy. The show ran like a beautifully-controlled freight train through its second season with the culmination of a massive storyline around Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s move to the underground. The fact that’s it has rounded into its third season with similar momentum is great. (Although I simply cannot abide Skye’s new bangs.) While I like the somewhat slower pace in storytelling surrounding the obelisk, its World War II origins, and a mysterious city, I’m not quite as engaged. Maybe it’s the lack of nail-biting action, or the change in the relationship between Fitz and Simmons (the show’s true highlight), or that Coulson’s not been his witty self of late. Whatever it is, it’s not enough to make me give up on the show, and I’m glad that it survived its initial growing pains.

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Scorpion © CBS Television Studios (2014)

Do I dare admit that I kinda like Scorpion? I can hardly believe it myself because the shows rides hard a number of smart-people stereotypes, but goodness is it bizarrely entertaining at times. Without getting to bogged down in all the (bad) details, Scorpion bands together yet another rag-tag team of highly intelligent people who help (and “help”) the FBI solve tech-related crimes. Collectively, and unfortunately, the folks in the group all fall under the Hollywood umbrella of “geeks and/or nerds.” But individually, the cast is quirky, smart, and is as chemically balanced as a tech-based dramady needs to be. Plus, it tackles, if awkwardly, the question of social aptitude when things like autism, introvertedness, disability, and even depression are involved. The show never goes so far as to become an after-school special, but those of us in the geek/nerd realm instantly recognize and identify with the issues that arise. The fact that the show has incorporated a character that “helps the others connect properly with the real world,” doesn’t make for the perfect equation, but as long as that function doesn’t veer into parody, it’s a step in a direction that I’m okay with.

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The Flash © Bonanza Productions, Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television, DC Entertainment (2014)

In other news, The Flash has been added to the watching rotation, and I don’t have much to say about it…yet. I like the overall story that’s been presented, and I enjoy watching the young Barry Allen play around with his status as a “meta-human,” but not much else is catching my full attention. Then again, I have a pretty short attention span, soooo… Anyhow, that’s sorta how its big brother Arrow started out. It took a good season and a bit for that show to find its footing. Despite some considerable missteps (Felicity was a great character until they took away much of her backbone in favor of becoming the “pretty one” this season), Arrow remains a very solid and entertaining (if soapy) show.

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That should be TV enough for one weekend. And frankly, just about everything seems like filler until (1) I can get around to new episodes of The Walking Dead and (2) the start of the third season of Hannibal some time next year.

What shows have been filling your television coffers lately?


Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday; and you can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play, United We Game, and 8bit Kitchen.

The Patient Hobbyist

Half-page advert for British Fretwork Outfits, Brighton Toy and Model Museum, East Sussex, UK
Half-page advert for British Fretwork Outfits, Brighton Toy and Model Museum, East Sussex, UK

This week it’d be careless of me to not join my fellow GFNer simpleek in celebrating all things Dragon Age! (Please do check out her great post on Dragon Age Keep.)  I too have been looking forward to this game ever since it was first announced. And now begins the process of treading the Internet very lightly in the effort to avoid major spoilers about the game. And it is a process, let me tell you, because although our copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition is now resting comfortably in our household gaming stash, it’ll be several weeks before I really get to sink my teeth into it.

And that’s okay.

No, really…it’s okay. And I’m okay.

Continue reading The Patient Hobbyist

Giving in to holiday food indulgences

Although we’re still a couple weeks away from Thanksgiving, “that holiday feeling” is slowing but surely creeping in. Black Friday sales are already in the news. Christmas commercials have started popping up on TV. And Starbucks has rolled out their seasonal red cups. (If THAT isn’t a sign of the season nowadays, I don’t know what is!)  I used to surge into the end-of-the-year holidays like a steamroller on red and green steroids, but my tsunami of cheer has lost much of its will, having been eroded away by time and commitments and life in general. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t look forward to a few holiday indulgences, especially when it comes to one of the biggest joys in life: food.

Continue reading Giving in to holiday food indulgences