College Classes Taught by Your Heroes Sep15

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes

If you’re not looking forward to going back to school, here are some classes you may want to add to your timetables. 1. Steve Rogers – American History Not only is Steve passionate about his homeland, but living through much of its history is one of the perks of being 95. 2. The Tenth Doctor – Physics “Physicsphysicsphysicsphysics physics! I hope one of you is getting all this down.” 3. Galadriel – Astronomy She’s so good, she can put starlight in a bottle. 4. Yoda – Communication Difficult, it can be. 5. Hermione Granger – Literature The type of literature is irrelevant. Hermione knows it all—or if she doesn’t, she’ll stay in the library until she does. 6. Spock – Statistics Nothing illogical will be tolerated in this classroom. 7. Sherlock Holmes – Criminal Justice It’s elementary, my dear students. 8. Rumpelstiltskin – Legal Studies No one’s better at making a deal than the Dark One—just make sure your homework doesn’t include signing one of his contracts. 9. J.A.R.V.I.S. – Computer Science He knows computers inside and out. 10. Wonder Woman – Classical Studies She’s straight outta Greek...

In Case You Missed Your Hogwarts’ Acceptance Letter Sep08

In Case You Missed Your Hogwarts’ Acceptance Letter...

Maybe you’re not heading to Hogwarts or Starfleet Academy, but good news, everyone! There are some other amazing options out there. Jack Sparrow’s Colloquy of Sailing and Diplomacy Students at this prestigious institution will learn the basics of sailing in an authentic haunted vessel. Navigation is covered with special emphasis on using magic tools to find your heart’s desire. The basics of Caribbean diplomacy—including misdirection, bait-and-switch, and general skullduggery—are at the heart of our instruction. Whether you want to serve on a pirate crew or master your own vessel, Jack Sparrow’s school is for you! And, best of all, you can pay your tuition in rum! The Guy-in-the-Chair College Want to be part of the superhero scene without all the spandex, physical exertion, and danger? The Guy-in-the-Chair Academy is the place for you! You’ll learn valuable skills such as “looking things up on the internet” and “looking other things up on the internet, but on a different computer.” With particular emphasis on “finding the answer just in the nick of time,” our esteemed faculty include Wade Load, Chloe O’Brien, and Ned Leeds. Cypher, the founder of the college, is sadly no longer available to teach. The Hoban Washburne Memorial Flight School Tired of being stuck just watching all of those cool space maneuvers on screen? Want to get in on the action? Transmit your application today! Study the art and science of “On Time Delivery” and “Flying with Instruments” with Turanga Leela. Or spend some time on “Improvised Piloting” with co-instructors Poe and Finn. Gain real skills in “Evasion and Exposition” with Hikaru Sulu. The Winchester Institute of Monster Hunting Founded by the Winchester family, all courses at the institute are taught by Sam and Dean. Class sessions are held approximately whenever they are...

5 Characters Who Made Bad First Impressions Sep01

5 Characters Who Made Bad First Impressions...

When I tell people I was homeschooled, they often ask if I was shy or antisocial as a child. When I tell people I’m a geek, they ask if I have a job and still live in my parents’ basement. When I tell them I’m Southern, they ask why I don’t have a strong accent. When people assume things about me, they often get a first impression that isn’t accurate. It frustrates me because they’ve attributed characteristics to me within the first few minutes, and I have to fight to counter a negative first impression when I shouldn’t have to. I feel hurt when people think they know me from a few stereotypes they heard through the grapevine. But I’m guilty of doing this too, with people I meet and with fictional characters. Sometimes I make up my mind about them before I give them a chance. Here are five characters I didn’t like at first, but changed my mind about later. For some of them, I grew to like them as they changed and adapted; for others, I started to like them because I understood them better. What characters would you add to this list? “GOLLUM =D” by speedportraits (speedportraits.deviantart.com). 1. Gollum (The Lord of the Rings) When I first saw Gollum in the movies as a child, I was terrified of him. I wasn’t sure of what to make of this “gangly creature.” He was an odd schizophrenic who seemed bent on doing anything, including murder, to get back the Ring. But as I learned more about his character and understood his addiction, watched his development I realized, like Frodo did, that he really is a creature to be pitied, not feared. “Cactus Love…” by Moni (moni158.deviantart.com). 2. Sokka (Avatar: The Last...

Introducing Non-Geeks to Your Fandom Aug04

Introducing Non-Geeks to Your Fandom...

One of the best parts of having a fandom is introducing new people to your favourite characters and worlds. Having someone to share your enthusiasm is great, but take the wrong approach and you’ll ruin it for them. Here are a few things to avoid when recruiting new fans. Never introduce them to the wrong point in the story—especially if it’s a series. You’re not a Harry Potter fan? Oh! Here, let me read you the best scene in book six. You’ll cry buckets! You’re going to love Doctor Who! We’ll start with the first Doctor—William Hartnell—and his granddaughter Susan. The show doesn’t really pick up until the third Doctor, but if you don’t watch the later episodes first you’ll never get all the nuances. Pro-tip: Any episode of The Starlost is the wrong episode to start with—that’s why you’ve never heard of it. Never assume that they’ll love a fandom just because it features actors they like in other properties. You like Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone, right? You’re going to love Demolition Man! If you think Han Solo was a great character, wait until you meet Rick Deckard. Yeah, John de Lancie was great in Next Gen, but he was completely awesome as Discord. Pro-tip: Don’t try to sell someone on Interstellar just because Elyes Gable from Scorpion has a bit part in it. Never use their non-geek interests to introduce them to your fandom. You like weddings? You’re going to love season three of Game of Thrones. Politics is your thing? You’ve got to see the senate scenes in Attack of the Clones. Pro-Tip: Don’t try to sell them on the Saw movies based on their interest in anatomy. Never tell them they’ll like a fandom because they remind you of...

Why Hollywood is Whitewashing Characters of Minority Aug02

Why Hollywood is Whitewashing Characters of Minority...

Two movies that came out fairly recently—Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell—did so amid allegations of whitewashing after both cast a white actor in the role of an Asian character: Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One and Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi. One response to whitewashing I’ve seen goes something like this: “Well, if you’re upset about [white actor] being cast as [person of colour character], then you should be equally upset about [person of colour actor] being cast as [white character].” And they bring up Heimdall, played by Idris Elba in the Thor movies, as an example. But this isn’t a tit-for-tat issue. Whitewashing is more than just a matter of choosing an actor for a role; money and politics often influence casting decisions. And, when we look at the complexities around whitewashing, we have to keep privilege and cultural context in mind. It’s all about the money Take, for example, Tilda Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One, a traditionally Tibetan character. Currently, the second largest movie market in the world is China, which also has volatile relations with Tibet; the Chinese Communist party and its army occupied Tibet in 1951 and, since 2009, there have been 148 confirmed self-immolations by Tibetans in protest of China’s occupancy. Acknowledging the Ancient One’s Tibetan ancestry would have caused China to reject the movie, which means Doctor Strange would have lost out on that audience and, therefore, the money. The “safe” move for Doctor Strange‘s producers, both politically and monetarily, was to change the Ancient One’s ancestry from Tibetan to Celtic to ensure that the movie was picked up in China. It’s important that those of us who have white skin remember that we have a certain amount of privilege. An actor’s monetary-drawing power can...

Alien: Covenant and the Significance of Sacrificial Love May24

Alien: Covenant and the Significance of Sacrificial Love...

The Alien films are all about the coldness of space with an emphasis on mechanics ahead of humans, the quietness in the vastness of the universe, and the xenomorphs that hunt humans without relent. So it feels strange, at first, that in Alien: Covenant the vessel is led by a crew consisting largely of married couples, carrying in the warmth of love to this callous environment. Unlike in many horror films, the couples don’t turn on each other. Their love is real and deep; they are strong, solid, and supportive. It’s no wonder these pairs were specifically selected for the Covenant’s colonization mission, as they have the responsibility of guiding a ship carrying thousands of humans and additional embryos to a new planet. The crew is also friendly, and despite arguments and missteps, genuinely want the best for one another. And yet, despite its promising beginning, lots of people die. The crew of the Covenant fights against the furious predators, the coldness of space, and evils of sin and humanity. This is no touchy-feely universe. Love doesn’t stand a chance. Living a life separated in every way from the frightening fiction of the Aliens franchise, I’m much more optimistic about love. I believe that my friends will reach out to me when I’m hurting. I believe that I’ll be gracious to those who injure me. I believe that my church community will love the downtrodden and the cast aside. Many times, my expectations are met; but more than I’d like to admit to myself, they are not. It doesn’t take a monster to destroy love; humans can do that just fine on their own. In the midst of Alien: Covenant’s chaotic action, the film manages to stress that dilemma. Battles take place within the...

Surprised by Moms May05

Surprised by Moms

My wife made our youngest son a Companion Cube cake for this seventeenth birthday. Instead of singing the usual “Happy Birthday,” she delivered it to the table with a pitch-perfect rendition of “Still Alive.” Nearly a decade later, that moment still stands out in his memory. He was surprised by—and delighted with—his mom’s unexpected geek cred. Moms can surprise us if we let them. In Sing!, a movie about talking animals and a singing competition, Rosita doesn’t necessarily want to surprise her family, but she wishes she had a little more of their support. When we first meet her, she’s working in the kitchen trying to get her brood of piglets ready for school. Katy Perry’s “Firework” is playing on the radio and Rosita sings along. She even manages a couple of dance steps between the sink and the table. The mood is broken when one her piglets jumps up on the table and entertains his siblings by making fun of her singing. She appeals to her husband, asking him to tell their brood what a good singer she is. You would think that after fifty-two years, I’d know my mother pretty well. “Oh yeah you were great, honey,” he says. Then adds, “by the way the bathroom sink is blocked again.” It’s a shame Rosita didn’t sing a bit more. Maybe her family would have heard the lyrics and realized they were missing something important. Do you ever feel Already buried deep Six feet under Screams but no one seems to hear a thing Do you know that there’s Still a chance for you ‘Cause there’s a spark in you Rosita has a spark—a genuine and surprising talent—but no one in the family can see it. I wonder how often I’ve been blind...

Meet the Geekdom House Staff: Kyle Rudge May03

Meet the Geekdom House Staff: Kyle Rudge...

Who are the people behind Geekdom House and what do they do? You well might ask, but question no longer, because Casey Covel has gone deep into the trenches to determine who we are and what you need to know. Today’s biography and nerd-cred heavy questions are all about our Admiral and Founder, Kyle Rudge. As though by prophetic destiny, Kyle always knew it was his mission to minister to the often-misunderstood and belittled geek culture. Geekdom House and its special features are largely inspired by key events that took place in Kyle’s backstory. An impromptu sing-along of “Hero of Canton” during a pre-screening of Serenity opened Kyle’s eyes to how geek culture is used to create community, as small pockets of chatting friends dissolved and the entire theater evolved into one large friend group. This “eureka moment” led to the establishment of Geekdom House’s Wandering Minstrels choir. With community at the forefront of his legendary quest, Kyle wields the power of facilitation—the ability to create conversation involving all walks of life, bringing out others’ beliefs, values, and personal stories for discussion and growth. “The medium is the message” is the mantra on Kyle’s proverbial standard, and it’s most apparent during Geekdom House Live! nights, where what is said is never as important as how it is said. With the Deity of all Creativity behind him, Kyle sees no reason why he and others who practice the Christian faith can’t step up their creativity game and contribute something meaningful and unique to the geek culture. Kyle is a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades. His resume is littered with more details than the Marauder’s Map—collaborating with music artists, owning a web and media company, hosting a radio station, acting as an air traffic controller, working with national non-profits…...

7 Female Roles that were Written for Men Apr28

7 Female Roles that were Written for Men...

Men might be the harbingers of action and combat in many sci-fi movies, action shows, and video games, but some writers are stepping up to challenge these notions. Taking over a role that was originally intended for a man is one way to break the mold, and make us wonder why we need molds in the first place, since so many are lying about in pieces at these women’s feet. Here are seven roles originally written for men, but portrayed by women instead. 1. Samus Aran, Metroid The plot twist at the end of the first Metroid game reveals that the person in the armour (who you’ve been kicking ass with so far) is, in fact, a woman. But a lesser known fact is that the game developers hadn’t planned this surprise from the start and decided to add it in halfway through development, creating one of the most iconic women characters in video games today. “It is true that in developing the original Metroid, we were partway through the development processes when one of the staff members said, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” So that’s how we decided on that. We’ve tried to express her femininity a little more without trying to turn her into a sex object.” —Yoshio Sakamoto 2. Toph Beifong, Avatar, the Last Airbender Known as the tiny blind girl who can throw boulders around with her earthbending prowess, this Avatar: The Last Airbender star was originally intended to be a large, muscled jerk. They even elude to this in the episode “The Ember Island Players,” where Team Avatar attend a play about their journey so far, and Toph is portrayed as a buff man. She was...

Meet the Geekdom House Staff: Allison Barron Apr26

Meet the Geekdom House Staff: Allison Barron...

Who are the people behind Geekdom House and what do they do? You well might ask, but question no longer, because Casey Covel has gone deep into the trenches to determine who we are and what you need to know. Today’s biography and nerd-cred heavy questions are all about our General Manager and Executive Editor, Allison Barron. Like many unassuming heroines, Allison was born in a tiny town (in Ontario) as the youngest of four siblings. She grew up gaining HP and MP from her loving parents and a steady diet of Terry Brooks, C.S. Lewis, Robert Jordan, Myst, Warcraft, and those The Lord of the Rings cartoons from the 1970s. Allison lived life as a “closet geek” during most of her backstory, but only because her friends weren’t interested in video games. Then, in an epic plot twist, her best friend married a nerd, and the LAN parties began… With all 20 of her Heart Containers filled with love for the arts and its practitioners, Allison expresses her passionate creativity though as many artistic mediums as possible, though she ultimately chose to pursue writing as a career. She was first recruited into Geekdom House by Admiral Kyle Rudge, who was looking for someone to share in an adventure that he was arranging. Hooked from the moment she heard the words “Firefly Bible study” and “geeky nonprofit that supports the arts,” Allison soon found herself running a magazine, co-hosting a podcast about The Lord of the Rings, meeting artists, singing alto in a geeky choir, attending comic conventions, speaking at churches, and painting miniatures for RPGs. For Allison, though, the real dropped loot is found in supporting, rewarding, and appreciating her fellow artists—writers, painters, podcasters, singers, dancers, and actors. As the wielder of the Triforce of...

A Response to Time Loops Apr24

A Response to Time Loops...

In All You Need is Kill, a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka turned into a manga (and the source material for the movie Edge of Tomorrow), the earth has been overrun with aliens known as Mimics. New recruit Keiji Kiriya is stuck in a time loop that starts the morning before his first battle and ends mid battle the next day, if he hasn’t died before then. When Keiji realizes he is trapped in the loop, he tries several times to escape, but there is nowhere for him to run to. So on the fifth loop, he commits himself to fight against the loop—to train and learn until he overcomes it. And he does. He pushes himself, trains his mind, and learns how to fight effectively, because every time he fails and dies, he can start again, having learned from his mistakes. It’s slow work. Every day he has to go through the same conversations, the same basic training, before he can focus on becoming a better soldier to escape the loop. Every time he wakes up, his progress is erased, except for the little piece he learned that he carries in his mind. I admire Keiji’s dedication. It only takes him four failures, four loops, before he vows to fight the loop, and he doesn’t break that vow. Some days he gets through his mundane tasks only to break his back minutes into training. The loop starts again, and he goes through another three hours of push-ups before he can begin his true work. I can relate to the feeling of being in a time loop. Sometimes it feels like the world gets reset when I go to bed. Every morning I make my bed, make breakfast, do the dishes, walk to work, come...

Only at a Convention Apr21

Only at a Convention

San Diego ComicCon, MegaCon, and DragonCon are just around the corner, a long with many other conventions spread across the country. For a weekend, geeks flock from all over for unadulterated fictional fun at these events. And while attending them, I’ve found my mindset changes. I act in ways at conventions that I wouldn’t elsewhere. It’s weird and wonderful. Here are some things you might find yourself saying when you’re at one of these fan-centered events. 1. Elsewhere: “I’m not parking in the back forty to get into the supermarket. I’ll just do my shopping somewhere else.” At a Convention: “I don’t care how far I have to park, nor how far I have to walk. I’m going to see Nathan Fillion if it’s the last thing I do!” 2. Elsewhere: “If I’m not comfortable in it, I’m not wearing it.” At a Convention: “This costume may take two hours to get on and cause me to overheat… it may be hard to walk in and wearing these coloured contacts hurt my eyes, but I look epic and that’s all that matters.” 3. Elsewhere: “I never spend more than ten minutes on my makeup, except for maybe weddings… Maybe…” At a Convention: *Spends almost three hours doing elaborate contouring and erasing eyebrows to look like L from Death Note.* 4. Elsewhere: *Passes by stranger. Says nothing.* At a Convention: “Oh my gosh! That costume is amazing! Can I take a selfie with you?” 5. Elsewhere: “I maybe take two pictures a day and they’re usually of my cat.” At a Convention: *Fills up memory card within the first two hours, frantically deletes bad photos while waiting in line to free up space for more because there’s an awesome Obi-Wan Kenobi cosplayer over there and must get 30 photos of him.* 6. Elsewhere: “I’m not waiting in this line...

Meet the Geekdom House Staff: Jason Dueck Apr19

Meet the Geekdom House Staff: Jason Dueck...

Who are the people behind Geekdom House and what do they do? You well might ask, but question no longer, because Casey Covel has gone deep into the trenches to determine who we are and what you need to know. Today’s biography and nerd-cred heavy questions are all about our Infinity +1 Producer, Jason Dueck. A Muggleborn of sorts, Jason was born a geek into a non-geeky family and grew up in a small town with a population level of over four thousaaaaaaand—! A fan of Star Wars, Redwall, and other geekery before it was cool, Jason’s experiences led him to connect the once-persecuted geek culture with his Christian faith and realize that the two groups had much more in common than just an ability to embrace the fantastical and supernatural. The rest, as they say, is history. Jason began his hero’s journey in the Creative Communications Program at Red River College, where he pursued Journalism. In order to complete an independent professional project for his degree, Jason interned at Geekdom House as a staff writer, only to discover that his passion for discourse could be more fully realized through audio. Thus did Jason pitch the Infinity +1 Podcast to Geekdom House and fulfill a lifelong dream to host his own podcast, all in one fell swoop. Legend says that Jason consumes no less than ten different podcasts per week to fuel his next brainchild. As a part of Geekdom House’s Triforce, Jason wields the power of Conversation, driven by a passion to reexamine what he believes about faith and fiction through deep discussions with others. We have, from a respected source, that the closest Jason has ever come to fangirling is when James Arnold Taylor recorded an intro for the Infinity +1 Podcast...

The Dark Art of Bloodbending Mar03

The Dark Art of Bloodbending...

What separates an extraordinary power from a dark art? There are enough dangerous powers in the Harry Potter series to fill a class at Hogwarts and enough in Star Wars to power the Dark Side of the Force. In those stories, darkness is characterized by how a power is used. The Unforgiveable Curses are illegal and Force Lightning is frowned upon because they lead the users down a dark path. Bloodbending is another dark power. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, bloodbending is explored in detail, including how it’s mastered. Katara encounters a bloodbender in the Season 3 episode “The Puppetmaster.” Team Avatar is travelling through the Fire Nation in disguise when they meet Hama, a waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe. Hama has been living among her enemies as an innkeeper. She doesn’t tell Katara the full story of her escape from a Fire Nation prison until the two of them are alone under the light of the full moon, the time when waterbenders are the strongest. Decades ago, Hama was kidnapped from the southern water tribe with other waterbenders and locked up. Similar to Magneto’s prison of plastic, her prison was kept entirely water-free, and her hands were bound when she was given water to drink. She finally devised an escape plan that relied on the full moon’s extra strength. “I realized that where there is life, there is water,” she says. “The rats that scurried across the floor of my cage were nothing more than skins filled with liquid, and I passed years developing the skills that would lead to my escape—bloodbending. Controlling the water in another body. Enforcing your own will over theirs. Once I had mastered the rats, I was ready for the men.” She used the technique on a...

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek Feb10

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek...

It’s the time of year for Love Potions, Heart Pieces, and those three magical words. (No, I’m not talking about “Use the Force” or “Beam me up.”) Whether you’re looking for a geeky way to ask your date out to a video game symphony, or planning to print your affections on a Luvdisc-shaped Valentine’s card, here are 42 ways to say “I love you” in Geek. (Why 42? Because it’s the answer to all mysteries in the universe, of course. And love may be the greatest mystery of them all.) 1. If you were a starter Pokémon, I’d choose you. 2. Are you a fairy? Because you fill all my heart containers. 3. All my base are belong to you. 4. I’d travel there and back again for you. 5. You’re my final fantasy. 6. I’d take an arrow to the knee for you. 7. I-it’s not like a l-like you or a-anything… b-baka—! 8. Be my Beka/Faye/Vincent Valentine. 9. Ruby is red, Neptune is blue, hope I get put on the same team as you. 10. You’re the hero Gotham deserves, and the one I need right now. 11. When I looked in the Mirror of Erised, I saw you. 12. You’re my precious. 13. SoH Dughajbe’bogh jaj rur Hov ghajbe’bogh ram. 14. Hello, Sweetie. 15. You are the center of my mind palace. 16. I know. 17. I’d volunteer as your tribute. 18. You were expecting Dio, but it was me—your Valentine! 19. Without you, who else will I have ice cream with? 20. With you, my life is 20% cooler. 21. *Wookie sounds* 22. You’re my player 2. 23. You fill me with determination. 24. Like a Headcrab, you’re always on my mind. 25. You’re the arc reactor to my heart....

The Mysteries of the Secret Sister Feb06

The Mysteries of the Secret Sister

“For there is no friend like a sister…” —Christina Rossetti In the latest—and perhaps last—series of BBC’s Sherlock, co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat deftly wade into the murky waters of Holmes non-canon by introducing Sherlock’s third sibling as the series’ Big Bad. The show has included an extended subtextual examination of family dynamics—Sherlock’s sibling rivalry with his older brother, Mycroft; John and Mary’s marriage and family; Sherlock and John’s chosen family; and Sherlock’s role as John and Mary’s “child.” With the revelation of Eurus, another, smarter Holmes[i], Sherlock further develops its ongoing interest in familial bonds, both blood family and chosen family, while providing Holmes with a much needed foil of equal, perhaps superior, abilities who threatens his emotionally detached perspective. His sister is not only Sherlock’s greatest adversary, but, by forcing him to confront his feelings by engaging his sympathy and empathy, also serves as the catalyst to his maturation. One of the major limitations of adapting the Holmes stories is the lack of strong antagonists, ones who can match Holmes’s superior mental (and, when it’s convenient, physical) prowess. When Arthur Conan Doyle introduced his “Napoleon of crime,” Professor James Moriarty, the sole purpose was to find a way to end the series Conan Doyle had grown tired of writing. Moriarty, though universally hailed as Holmes’s arch-nemesis, appears in only one short story, “The Final Problem” and in a late and very inferior novel, The Valley of Fear. But even within these original short stories, Moriarty’s place as Holmes’s equal is subtly drawn by characterizing him as a symbolic brother, a technique Conan Doyle used a number of times throughout the stories and identified by Michael Atkinson in the excellent The Secret Marriage of Sherlock Holmes and Other Eccentric Readings. In Moriarty and Holmes, we see traces of ancient brother battles, Cain and Abel, Gilgamesh. Sherlock made excellent use of Moriarty (played with menacing camp by Andrew Scott), emphasizing his importance as Sherlock’s equal by alluding to his presence and showing his influence throughout Series One and Two, and then (sort of) bringing him back at the end of Series Three as a surprise postlude. But, like the canonical Holmes stories, once Moriarty exits the narratives, all other criminals seem somehow second rate by comparison. She has a unique way of challenging Sherlock’s very identity and ways of perceiving the world. In introducing Eurus, a Holmes sister, Gatiss and Moffat create an antagonist who pushes Holmes not only mentally but emotionally and further some of the interesting feminist groundwork laid in Victorian-era special, “The Abominable Bride.” She actualizes the archetypal relationship Conan Doyle often uses—she’s his actual sister and therefore his equal—but she has a unique way of challenging Sherlock’s very identity and ways of perceiving the world. Her attempts to battle Holmes require him to push himself further, engaging honestly with the strong emotional connections he has made despite his cold, logical perspective. As emotions are traditionally considered “female,” the revelation of a secret sister allows Gatiss and Moffat to reimagine the overly masculine source material in which Holmes is frequently dismissive of women and emotions to explore the power of feelings. Eurus pushes Holmes with logical problems behind a backdrop of emotional manipulation. With each puzzle, Holmes must also directly confront his own powerful feelings and attachments; he must face an endangered child, choose whether to kill Mycroft (his blood brother) or John (his chosen brother), and (most gutwrenchingly) manipulate Molly Hooper into saying “I love you.” One of the strengths of Sherlock has been its awkward relationship to the course material. While generally faithful to spirit of the law, though not the letter, Gatiss and Moffat have created an intelligent and engaging show that’s as much an exploration of human relationships as it is of mystery. They took minor characters like Mycroft (who only appears in two stories and is mentioned in two others)...

Our Favourite Things from 2016 Jan02

Our Favourite Things from 2016

Charles’ Anime Picks 1. March Comes in Like a Lion Very rarely have I found media that’s both rip-roaringly funny and genuinely touching. March Comes in Like a Lion, a story about a shogi prodigy (think Japanese chess) trying to find his way in the world is just that. Memorable characters, beautiful artwork, and catchy music—all of which you’d expect from the spiritual successor to Honey and Clover—are the icing on the cake for a series that tackles issues like loneliness, adoption, neglect, illness, and poor parenting. This is the best anime of 2016. 2. Re:Zero A video-game-playing shut-in is spirited away to a fantasy world where he makes friends with would-be princesses and assassin maids, fights creepy cultic leaders, and dies agonizing deaths before restarting the “game.” Oh, and did I mention there’s an entire arc based on Moby Dick, but with flying whales? 3. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash A show that takes place in a world with some similarities to Sword Art Online. But Grimgar is far more intense and takes unexpected turns that advance the story of comrades learning to survive in a harsh world. The animation is very pretty and the show has lots of thoughtful, quiet moments, but be prepared, Grimgar is violent—most of all, to the viewer’s heart. Jen’s Superhero Movie Picks 1. Captain America: Civil War You can’t go wrong with a Captain America movie, but this one was especially awesome. Besides being action-packed, fun, and full of great characters (loved Black Panther!), it was relevant to the real sense of division that many people are feeling these days. The intro of a couple of new characters to the Avenger group and a storyline that I can’t wait to see developed really made this movie stand out in the Captain America series. 2. Doctor Strange This movie was visually interesting and had super cool special effects. The storyline was compelling and thought-provoking. I like that Marvel is bringing out some of the lesser known guys like Doctor Strange. I also really enjoy seeing the birth of a hero and watching Strange come into his. The during credits sneak peek vignette was the best one yet (Yay Thor!). 3. X-Men: Apocalypse I love Magneto (and Michael Fassbender), so any story giving insight into his character is good in my book. The scene with Quicksilver was the best part of the movie, and the theme of family was a good one—that’s really what the X-Men are, after all.   Kevin’s Animated Movie Picks 1. Kubo and the Two Strings This movie is simply beautiful. The visual design of the stop motion animation evokes feudal Japan. It explores the importance of story and themes of love, loss, sacrifice, and redemption. It’s my favourite animated film in a year crowded with amazing entries. 2. Zootopia Zootopia took us to another world populated by anthropomorphic animals. The structure of the story is heavily influenced by the classic film noir stories, but the bright colours and sheer inventiveness of the world-building made it an amazing journey. 3. Moana With stunning visuals, a Chief’s awesome daughter (emphatically NOT a princess), an epic quest, amazing songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Alan Tudyk as a chicken, this is one of my favourites. Honorable Mention – Sing! While not a great film, this movie has an exuberant third act which will sweep you away. Victoria’s TV Show Picks 1. Stranger Things This was one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. I binge-watched it over two days—twice. The acting was superb, the plot drew me in, the characters were original and delightful, and I still quote lines from the show on a regular basis. 2. The Muppets Though this show only lasted one season, it brought me back to my childhood. I adore Muppet humor and this show had me laughing out loud. I loved seeing Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and the rest of the gang...

The Best of Area of Effect 2016 Dec30

The Best of Area of Effect 2016...

Happy new year!! If you’re new to Area of Effect or want to catch up on some reading you might have missed, here are the top Editors’ Picks from 2016. Let us know your favourite article in the comments, and what you hope to see us write about in 2017. Cheers, y’all. ANIME 1. “The Gift We Can’t Earn” by Charles Sadnick — on Clannad After Story 2. “Pain Can’t Keep us Together” by Casey Covel — on Kiznaiver 3. “Choosing Peace in Nausicaa’s Wake” by Charles Sadnick — on Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind COMICS 1. “One of Your Many Toys” by Dustin Schellenberg — on Suicide Squad 2. “Losing to Win: Doctor Strange and Fear” by Victoria Grace Howell — on Doctor Strange 3. “A Bizarro Kind of Love” by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry — on Superman the Animated Series FANTASY 1. “I Must Not Tell Lies” by Kyla Neufeld — on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 2. “Of Mice and Words” by Casey Covel — on the Redwall series by Brian Jacques 3. “Call Me Treebeard” by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry — on The Lord of the Rings SCI-FI 1. “Stranger Things: The Villains in Authority” by Michael Boyce — on Stranger Things 2. “I Ain’t Afraid of No Truth” by Kevin Cummings — on Ghostbusters 3. “Identifying with a Sarcastic Martian” by Allison Barron — on The Martian TABLETOP 1. “Confessions of a DM: NPCs are People Too” by Sheela Cox — on Dungeons and Dragons 2. “Keeping it in the Game” by Michael Penner — on Settlers of Catan 3. “Not Just a Board Game Design Class” by Kevin Cummings VIDEO GAMES 1. “A Colossal Lie” by Casey Covel — on Shadow of the Colossus 2. “Our Response to Fear and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided” by Dustin Schellenberg — on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided 3. “Life, Death, and Mario Kart” by Kyle Rudge — on Mario Kart HUMOUR...

The 12 Days of Geekdom Dec23

The 12 Days of Geekdom...

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the one ring to rule them all (My Precioussssss) On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 2 Grabthar’s Hammers And the one ring to rule them all On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 3 X-Wings 2 Grabthar’s Hammers And the one ring to rule them all On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 4 green rupees 3 X-Wings 2 Grabthar’s Hammers And the one ring to rule them all On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 5 Halo Riiiiiiings . . . 4 green rupees 3 X-Wings 2 Grabthar’s Hammers And the one ring to rule them all . . . . . On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 12 wookies mrwwwararrraara’ing 11 Time Lords quipping (technically it was only 1 from 11 different times but at slightly different intervals and the first one was the last one to arrive and the last one was the first one to arrive so they know progressively less and less, or more and more depending on how you look at it . . . it’s complicated) 10 Red Shirts dying 9 Wraiths a’ringing 8 orcs exploding 7 wands a’waving 6 Zombies shambling 5 Halo Riiiiiiings . . . 4 green rupees 3 X-Wings 2 Grabthar’s Hammers And the one ring to rule them...

Putting the “Special” in Holiday Dec16

Putting the “Special” in Holiday...

There are a few franchises that get away with what Star Wars could not, but here are a few stories that none have attempted (yet). The Avengers Advent Spectacular Tony Stark whips up a high-tech light display and turns the Avengers HQ into a Christmas tree for the city. The Hulk and the Black Widow star in a touching remake of The Gift of the Magi where he gives up his superpowers to buy her bullets and she pawns her gun to buy him an ultra-stretchy pair of pants. Captain America complains about how Christmas was better when he was a scrawny kid. When Bucky Barnes shows up, he and Cap sing a sweet duet of The Little Drummer Boy. And Harvey Korman appears as a cross-dressing intergalactic TV chef. Battlestar (Christmas) Carol-actica It’s Christmastime in the fleet and Commander Adama just isn’t feeling the spirit of the season. He’s too focused on feeding and protecting the survivors of the Cylon massacre. Apollo tries to get him to lighten up, but is chased off by Adama’s cries of “Humbug!” That night, in his quarters, Adama is visited by the ghost of Colonel Tigh, who mysteriously died just in time for the Holiday Special. Tigh warns Adama that he’ll be visited by three specters. In quick succession Adama’s sleep is disturbed by visitations from Gauis Baltar, President Roslin, and Number Six. Just as he’s about to give in and reclaim his Christmas spirit, Adama realizes that it’s a Cylon trick. He finds and destroys the Basestar and proves that grumpiness is a true superpower. The show ends with Harvey Korman appearing as a cross-dressing intergalactic TV chef. Doctor Who Christmas Special The Doctor… wait a minute.  We live in the universe where the Doctor Who...