Toy Meets World Magazine: Brand New Old School Cool!

Today we’re taking a peek at a brand new magazine on the geeky block, Toy Meets World!  This shiny print publication is clearly an immense labour of love (and probably blood, sweat and tears too, because a project like this is one hell of an undertaking) from the good folks behind the Toy Meets World Blog. I’ll admit it’s been a while since I picked up any kind of glossy-print magazine so the leafing through this bumper debut issue managed to be at once a satisfyingly novel experience and a blast from the past in more ways than one…

Rodimus is a big fan!

Rodimus is a big fan!

Check out our further thoughts on why you should check out this magazine!

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Dovah-cookery: Skyrim-inspired cooking

Lots of the food in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, (a game which I’m sure needs no introduction from me) looks remarkably appetizing.

Good grief; that salmon steak looks almost real.

Salmon Steak, Seared Slaughterfish and a “Homecooked Meal” look particularly nice, assuming you’re not vegetarian.

But there’s one food above the others that impressed me in Skyrim, though for the life of me, I can’t put my finger on why: Grilled leeks!

Here they are, in all their crispy glory.

Here they are, in all their crispy glory.

You can buy Grilled Leeks from from almost any tavern in Skyrim, and find them on plates in dungeons and fortresses. For some reason, though, the Dovahkiin (player character) can never master the recipe.

Well, I decided that I needed to exceed my Dovahkiin’s cookery skills; since grilled leeks looked so nice in Skyrim, I would learn to cook them for real… Continue reading

Rodimus and Brainstorm go to Optimus Con, Bristol

The weekend of April 9-10th was Optimus Con, held at the UWE Exhibition and Conference centre in Bristol. B and I went along for the day on the Saturday and had a great time. Our original cos-plans for this event had been to give a second airing to our Borderlands Tannis and Salvador costumes, but that was before I got utterly obsessed with working on our Transformers MTMTE-inspired human(ish) Rodimus and Brainstorm cosplay. These only really needed to be finished in time for TFNation, which isn’t until August, but once I started building and sewing these I got so into the project that I just wanted to work until they were done. So I figured I’d set myself an earlier deadline and get a few wears out of them before the Summer’s big robot party. And hey, what’s an event called Optimus without some good old Transformers representation anyway?

MTMTE Brainstorm and Rodimus, cosplay by Addaltmode

MTMTE Brainstorm and Rodimus, cosplay by Addaltmode

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Geeky Christmas Decorations 2: Goblin Dreams Haul

In my last post about Geeky Christmas decorations I explained that I try to pick up one or two new unusual new tree ornaments each year. Well, December 2015 might be somewhat lacking in overall festive anticipation, but in this respect at least I haven’t broken tradition. This year’s acquisition for the Addaltmode tree, has now arrived and gone straight to the top of my list of favourite decorations. He’s flying the geek flag pretty high too….

Meet Potatox*:

Dragon Christmas bauble by Goblin Dreams

Dragon Christmas bauble by Goblin Dreams

Isn’t he lovely? This little guy is handmade by the talented Nici and Marc a local duo who run an ”Emporium of Shiny Curiosities” called Goblin Dreams. I’d bought jewellery and craft supplies from them before when I’ve seen their stall at local comic conventions. And I’d always admired their handmade dragons, who appear in all sorts of adorable and geeky guises, from fairly classic mythical reptilian poses right through to Doctor Who and Ghostbuster dragons, even an Aliens-inspired chest-burster dragon (who has no right to be that cute!) Goblin Dreams recently hosted an online market via their Facebook page and when I saw some festive dragons were available it seemed the perfect opportunity to treat myself.

But wait, there’s more… I think Goblin Dreams might just have helped me answer the conundrum I posed last time: what’s the least appropriate but most geekily awesome festive decoration?

Drum roll please…

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Geeky Christmas Decorations

Once more the tinsel-clad juggernaut has rolled into town and Christmas time is almost upon us. I’m not religious but I am always grateful for the twinkling lights and good cheer of the festive season as a way to break up the darkest winter days because few things are more depressing than having to walk to work and walk home again both times in darkness.  This year, however, I’m rather less excited about the holiday than I have been on many other years because unfortunately AddaltmodeB has to work until late on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We’ll be doing our proper family Christmas on Boxing Day and I’m looking forward to that. It won’t be quite the same but B works for the NHS and I appreciate that nobody chooses to be ill and hospitals can’t just magically close for public holidays.  So here on Addaltmode we may have a few seasonal inspired posts for you over the coming week or so – and this is one such post. But I hope you’ll appreciate that we’re not going to go overboard on the Christmas stuff because it’s hard to feel truly festive with so much work on the agenda.

Optimus has got his hat on

Optimus is more ready for season than we are.

My absolute favourite Christmas tradition is decorating the tree. We have a lot of individual baubles and trinkets on our tree, some tasteful, some tacky, and it’s always a delight to open the boxes, unroll the bubblewrap and reconnect with these festive knick-knacks after they’ve been in storage for eleven months. I tend to buy a couple of new decorations each year and these little bits and pieces are surprisingly powerful receptacles of memories. Hanging them up once again is a nice way to remember when and where I got them: the shopping trip with my parents, the stall at a convention, the gift from a rarely seen relative. The older decorations also remind me how far we’ve come, recalling mine and B’s first Christmases together many years ago now when we could only fit a few trinkets on the spindly branches of our miniature tree in the damp and weirdly-shaped flat that was our first home together.

Recently Diana from the Part-Time Monster blog did a wonderful post about Christmas decorations and the memories attached to them. I very much echo her sentiment that “the ornaments are like old friends, little tangible reminders of our interests and our life.”   B and I can’t quite match the level of Diana’s very cool Star Trek and Star Wars tree ornaments we do have some fairly geeky stuff amongst our festive branches. Here are a couple of my favourites…

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The Steampunk Yule Ball 2015

If real life had achievements the same way many video games do then last weekend I would definitely have unlocked some good ones! Participate in a massive Steampunk conga line? Check: achievement unlocked! Get up onstage and dance alongside the legendary Professor Elemental? Check: very fun and happy achievement unlocked!

These antics are all courtesy of local alt-rock / steampunk band, The Mysterious Freakshow, who for the past three years have organised annual Yuletide Steampunk extravaganza at Exeter Phoenix. This year’s event took place last Saturday and it was bigger and more enjoyable than ever, lining up an eclectic array of performers (and proving that Steampunk is one of the most enjoyably eclectic of genres), spreading some seasonal cheer (including plenty of yuletide spirit of the alcoholic variety) and of course, offering a wonderful excuse to get really dressed up. There were some wonderful costumes and everyone was welcome from the very finest bustled Victorian ladies, via crazy mad scientist looking-types, to military gentlemen and even a steampunk Mandalorian (none other than our pal Exeter Cosplay).

The evening's programme of entertainment

The evening’s programme of entertainment

Two of my favourite social activities are going to geek conventions (especially when in cosplay) and going to gigs and music festivals. The Steampunk Ball is one of my favourite nights of the year because it feels like the place where these two wonderful things collide. It’s a music event with some really interesting and talented bands performing, but it also has a bit of a nerdy convention feel to it too…

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Contact Lens Trial a.k.a. why my glasses are here to stay

The other week I wrote about the various tropes and stereotypes that connect being a geek with wearing glasses. In that post I asserted that I like the way I look in my specs, and that – since there are so many shallow Hollywood clichés which tell us glasses are ugly – it has become a source of geek pride for me to continue wearing mine. But I also concluded with the admission that I was tempted, for the first time, to give contact lenses a go, mostly for the added freedom they would give me while cosplaying. The thought of being able to go without my glasses (a necessity while in costume) and still see properly at conventions was certainly an appealing one. So I went ahead and booked a contact lens trial at my local Specsavers.

Having now had the appointment I thought I should update you all on how it went. You can read the full story below but the tl;dr version is this: disappointingly, it was basically a disaster I am not going to be giving up my glasses any time soon.

Via Giphy

Via Giphy

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Let’s Talk About… Geeks in Glasses

Do you wear glasses? I do, and so does AddAltModeB. But then of course we do, we’re geeks, right? And it is a truth universally acknowledged that geeks wear glasses. Just how firmly that particular stereotype is grounded in truth is open to debate, but there’s no doubt at all of the extent to which glasses have become a visual pop-cultural shorthand for all sorts of behaviours and character traits that are typically considered “geeky.” They even market glasses-shaped paperclips “for geeks” because, you know, glasses on our faces just aren’t enough anymore.  Apparently we need them on our dead-tree documents too.

In Hollywood, glasses are often used as a quick and/or lazy way to signal that a character is smart or bookish. Want to give that background scientist character authenticity without having to give them lines? Easy, just stick them in a pair of specs! Now intelligence really should be considered A Good Thing but the stereotypes around glasses cannot be compartmentalised in anywhere near such a neat or positive way. Just take a peek at the TV Tropes page for Glasses which lists more than 30 specs-related tropes, showing how they can signal, among other things, both ugliness and sexiness, weakness and badassery.

Glasses in pop-culture Clockwise from left: TV's eponymous Daria, Lex from Popcap's Bookworm games, Platinum Games' Bayonetta, Raf from Transformers Prime, Velma from Scooby Doo and Newt (Dr. Newton Geisler) from Pacific Rim

Glasses in pop-culture
Clockwise from left: TV’s eponymous Daria, Lex from Popcap’s Bookworm games, Platinum Games’ Bayonetta, Raf from Transformers Prime, Velma from Scooby Doo and Newt (Dr. Newton Geisler) from Pacific Rim

I’ve been thinking about glasses-related stereotypes a lot lately, prompted by the fact that I’ve got an eye-test coming up…

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Devcon Exe: podcasts, poses and purchases

Last weekend was DevCon Exe (the local convention formerly known as ExeCon), this was a two day event held, this time, in the Great Hall at the University of Exeter. The University was a great venue: well lit and with some interesting backdrops for photographs, plus much more spacious than this event’s previous home at St George’s Hall in the city centre, so although it felt like the place was nicely buzzing on the Saturday at least, things never got too cramped and as someone in a costume with wings I was grateful for that!

B had to work on the Saturday and couldn’t make it along, so our original plan had been that I’d go as Slipstream on the first day with some of our friends to lend me a hand getting in to the costume, and then both halves of AddAltMode would make an appearance in our Borderlands gear on the Sunday. For various reasons, the Sunday plans went awry so Tannis and Salvador didn’t get an airing, but Slipstream had a fantastic time there on the Saturday. I’m still slightly awed by how popular Slipstream is and how much love there is for my costume, both from people encountering her for the first time and from folk who were happy to see my Decepticon alt-mode again.

AddAltModeR as Slipstream, photo by We Shoot First

AddAltModeR as Slipstream, photo by We Shoot First

Read on for my highlights of the day and a few great sites and people for you to check out…. Continue reading