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

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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Geekily Ever After? AddAltMode’s Top 10 Tips for a Lasting Geek Relationship

This summer B and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. According to UK tradition this apparently was our “woollen” anniversary – although a more appropriate material for us would surely have been plastic seeing as we spent our anniversary weekend at Auto Assembly! Who says romance is dead? Now a Transformers convention may not be too many people’s idea of a romantic date but it’s fitting for us in many ways as our geeky interests and passions have always been an central element in our relationship. Like any partnership, ours has had its ups and downs over the years, but we’re glad to still be going strong after 7 years of marriage and almost 15 together as a couple (yeah, we didn’t exactly rush down the aisle).

PixelHeartWe’re often asked what is the secret behind our successful marriage, and I’m not sure there is one – although friendship, compromise, stubbornness and yes, just sheer luck certainly all have had their roles to play. But even if there’s no magic formula we’ve learned a few things over the years about making a relationship last and we thought we’d share them today. Now, relationship advice isn’t a topic we’d normally cover here on AddAltMode but, as you’ll see, it isn’t a million miles away from our regular programming. This is a geek blog, and over the years we’ve come to realise that the fact that we’re both massive geeks isn’t just a key element in why we get along so well, it also provides a shared language and some handy frames of reference for many of things we’ve learned on our journey together to date…

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Borderlands Cosplay work in progress: Patricia Tannis part 2

I hinted in my last post that I was making good progress on my Borderlands Dr. Tannis costume but I really should back up the claim with some evidence. I confess I’ve probably been a better cos-maker in the last month than I have a cos-blogger; as I’ve just been motoring on with the costume rather than pausing to take as many work in progress shots as I probably should have done along the way. But I think things are going pretty well…

Tannis coat, vests and backpack: front view

Tannis coat, vests and backpack: front view

Tannis coat, vests and backpack: rear view

Tannis coat, vests and backpack: rear view

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Blog Milestone: our 100th post!

Yes, we’ve reached our first big blogging milestone here on AddAltMode, post number 100. Let’s celebrate!

100 posts

Ultra Magnus can’t entirely deal with this celebration business right now, but he’s making an effort for us.

We started this blog at the beginning of this year, January, that month of good intentions so many of which quickly morph into failed resolutions. AddAltMode could easily have been another abandoned project on that list, but instead 8 months on, here we are, still blogging, massively enjoying doing so, making friends and slowly growing the site. Thank you to everyone who has read, followed, liked or commented so far. Beyond doubt the most rewarding aspect of blogging on WordPress has to be the sense of community here and though we are still a very tiny site and will probably always remain that way we’ve met some great people as a result of writing here and enjoyed some really good discussion, both here on AddAltMode and on some of the other blogs we follow.

100 posts in seems like a good time to pause and reflect on some of the things we’ve done, what has worked, what hasn’t and what we’ve learned as a result…

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