Sunday, October 17, 2010

Black Widow Part 5: Wigging Out

The amazon stuff has all arrived now, and I have to say, the bullet belt is an incredible Halloween asset. It's 100% modular! I do have the real bullet casings, but I'm not even going to mess with them now, I just detached enough bullets from the belt to make 2 bracelets, snapped them on, and boom.

The two wigs arrived also, and both look decent on, but I'm drumming my fingers thoughtfully on this part... I'm still waiting on the make-or-break, the leather catsuit, to arrive, but the rest of the costume looks flipping awesome so far. The questionable part is the wig. Because at the end of the day, a wig is so obviously a wig. The rest of the costume looks so much more "real."

What I might do is something that is very like me TO do; I might go to a hair salon on Sunday, October 31, and get my hair actually (temporarily) dyed red and curled. It's not really long enough for full accuracy, but I think it'd just look better than a wig... but is it worth dealing with that color, and growing it out, afterward? Possibly not. On the fence for now.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Black Widow, Part 4

Last night the thigh holster arrived from Amazon. The holster is for the wrong thigh (the right one vs. the left one) but it looks SO badass! I didn't want to take it off. I might wear it around the office, maybe I could keep a pen and a pad of post-it notes in there as an excuse.

Today I popped over to the Army Surplus store in Milford to pick up the shoulder patches, which had arrived:

Here's the one from the movie:

Now I have to decide if the ones I just got or the ones I have at home already are closer to that. They're both pretty close.

I also picked up a couple little $3 belt pouches from there, which are needed, and did not come with the holster. On the way home I was admiring them, and I noticed the brand tag:

HA! Well of course... Fury Tactical.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Black Widow, Part 3

Time is flying, and Halloween is just around the corner. I just kicked off an order including:

- Two likely wigs
- a thigh holster set
- a bullet belt (for the bracelets, if the real bullet shells I got don't work. I'm a fan of contingency plans)
- a sort of seatbelt material military belt with a silver buckle that can be edited into the Black Widow belt

I was about to include a nice pair of fingerless leather gloves in that order when I noticed the ship date was between October 28 and December 16. So after submitting it sans gloves, I spent some time Googling and found a close approximation of the right gloves at a site called Bikers' Den.

Now all I need are some buckles for my boots, and I think I can get those at PetCo. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The making of F**k You

Documentary is everywhere (explicit language).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Black Widow Quest, Part 2

Having acquired the jumpsuit for my Black Widow costume, next came the bullet bracelets. I considered copper piping, doweling, or something along those lines, but in my heart I wanted real bullet casings. A friend suggested I try an Army surplus store. A quick Google search revealed one a few towns over, and I emailed them about it.

They said they had some stuff lying around, and to come by if I were local. I headed over there at lunch today. This is where I remember how life is full of adventures if you are enthusiastic about embracing them. One minute I was at my normal day job, doing normal day job things. Twenty minutes later, I was having an engaging conversation with two war veterans and the store proprietor about tactical evacuation planning. Life kicks ass if given half a chance. :)

But anyway, I walked in there, and said, "Hey, I'm here about the bullet casings!" Not surprising, they knew right away. They were a bit baffled about my purpose, but nonetheless, produced a box of spent casings that were a little shorter than the ones I was copying, but partly because the bullet tips were gone of course. However, they were real brass bullet casings, and I knew right away I had to have them.

"How much for the box?" I asked.

"Oh, say, $5?" the proprietor replied.

Done. We had some fun and lively discussion (where I distinctly wished I had my camcorder), and I was about to leave when another thought occurred to me. I asked them if they might be able to help me find shoulder patches with sort of an eagle on them. And that's when I was able to pull out my phone and show them this:

They had something pretty close right there in the store, but also a catalog of patches. It didn't take me long to find almost exactly what I needed in this catalog. I put in an order, and I'm looking forward to coming back there in a week or so again to pick those up. Two birds with one stone, as it were.

Halloween 2010: Black Widow Quest Part 1

For Halloween this year, I'm going for the Scarlett Johannson Black Widow from Iron Man 2. True, her part was minor, but the costume was cool, and probably not that hard to pull off. Famous last words, possibly.

First I have to say, the only pre-packaged version of this costume for sale at every Halloween outlet I can find, is, how shall I say this? CRAP. Tis trashy, and doesn't even look like the one in the movie. True, I've learned that there are different interpretations of this costume in the comic book world.

I'm mainly aiming to replicate the movie look. So my first order of business was to slow-frame through the fight scene and capture a bunch of shots on my iPhone. This came in really handy today, but more on that later.

So, what are the elements here?

  1. Dark jumpsuit. Appears to be some kind of dark navy lycra fabric, with red piping up the sides.

  2. Waves of curly red hair.

  3. Black boots, low heel, with three strap and buckle sets on each boot.

  4. Belt with an hourglass symbol on the front

  5. Bullet bracelets

  6. Fingerless gloves

  7. Left thigh holster with utility pouches

  8. Insignia shoulder patches

I think that about covers it. For the base suit, I decided I'm going with a black leather catsuit. This isn't exactly what they did, but I figure it's such a superhero costume staple, I can use it in the future. It's also a lot EASIER to come by than a navy lycra/spandex jumpsuit. I secured a custom black leather catsuit on Ebay. Only time will tell if it does the trick, but they asked for over 20 different body measurements, so that's pretty custom in my book.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

iPad arcade

This may just force me to buy an iPad.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spielberg's new Lincoln FOUND

So Liam Neeson is no longer playing Lincoln for Spielberg's film of the same name. So what? There are plenty of talented actors out there, perfectly capable and deserving a break in the biz. Case in point:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

8-bit assaults Mt. Hood

If the recent New York Pixels attack wasn't enough, now 8-bit is conquesting for Mt. Hood. I caught wind of this awesome video via @Freakizoid on Twitter.

Gnarcade from Mike Benson on Vimeo.

I for one would welcome being ruled by Bust-a-Move dinosaurs. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

See Settlers of Catan on MS Surface at Origins

This just in: Catan for the MS Surface will be at Origins, June 22 - 26 (next week)!

VERY exciting news, I've been hoping to see Catan playable on the Surface since the first time I heard about the technology.

UPDATE: And here's a video!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ten Geeky Things About Lorien

Here it goes: I was tagged by Rosalind to be given a blog award started by Angela at High on Life.

The Geek Girls Unite Award

Here are the rules:
1. List ten geeky facts about yourself and…
2. Pass this award onto your favorite female geeks!

So here you go, a TMI bonanza of 10 geeky things about Lorien!

  1. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — I won first place as Arwen in a Lord of the Rings look-a-like contest on

  2. I have a #3 top score on the Twin Galaxies MAME category for Timber

  3. Created a virtual catering company in the MMO Asheron's Call, Cragstone Farms...which eventually led to my working for Turbine, Inc. on the online community team for Asheron's Call 2 and The Lord of the Rings Online

  4. Along with 2 friends, did the audio and content for the Leetspeak Word of the Day

  5. I'm making an independant documentary about designer board games

  6. Attended a Bruce Campbell book signing once where we all stayed up till 2 AM with Bruce, chatting and giving him our cellphones to make prank phonecalls to our friends

  7. Went to Boston University for Marine Biology largely because Hooper in Jaws was from "the oceanographic institute on the mainland" and BU had an internship program in Woods Hole (home of the oceanographic institute on the mainland)

  8. Started the Boston University club for Magic: the Gathering, and met my husband, a tournament M:tG player, that same year

  9. Visit Funspot regularly, and my copy of The King of Kong is autographed by Walter Day and Joel Hedge

  10. Have a retro gaming room with NES and Atari 2600 consoles, and one day I WILL beat Solaris!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Master Chief?

Uhhh... my friend Justin just linked me to... uhhh...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Arcade classics filmed in lego

PS - if anybody has any tips for beating the final stage of the Black Bass (NES), I would love to hear them! Techniques, mind you, not cheat codes. :p

Friday, April 30, 2010

Programming NES games

I've got this sinking feeling that I may not be able to master programming Atari home brews. I think it really codified while I was reading an article on Retro Thing about Nolan Bushnell and the Atari games that came out with the Atari Jr.
In the late 80's, Atari created a smaller & cheaper 2600 ("the fun is back for under 50 bucks!") to compete with Nintendo's NES. The release of the Atari Jr. was flanked by a few new releases from Atari themselves. These games were subcontracted to Bushnell's Axlon company (after he bluffed Atari that his staff had the chops to program for the notoriously difficult 2600). Luckily one of his programmers, Steve DeFrisco, was clever enough to work his magic to create the last few official games for the 2600.
I knew about the 2600's reputation for being hard to program, as I've been reading David Crane's really cool 2600 Magic app on my iPhone. I may have thought at first that since the graphics were simple, the coding must be equally simple. I was wrong about that. Oh, so very wrong.

So I'm reading this Bushnell article and thinking to myself, "C'mon now, are you REALLY going to figure this stuff out?" And really, no, I'm probably not.

And besides, I'm utterly obsessed with NES at the moment. Hmmm... I wonder if people program homebrews for the NES? It would be totally innocent to Google that, right?

And lo, 98-026, a college course on programming for the NES, taught at Carnegie Mellon in 2004. I'm afraid to even click on the "Development tools and resources" or "Assignments from the class" buttons, but it's too late anyway. The idea has a foot-hold. This is trouble.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Super Mario Crossover

I don't even know how they did this, but don't question it. Just go play SMB as Simon from Castlevania. Or Samus...

There is audio, FYI, so be careful at work.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Black Dynamite

Last night we finished watching Black Dynamite, and I had to share.

The film was made in 2009, but it was made to look and feel like a medium-budget amateur 70's action film, and they went to TOWN on that. It's full of intentional blunders and nuances that give it a delightfully authentic feel. From the occasional boom mic in the shot to the visible cut edits and horrible dialog, this flick delivers:

Go here to watch it in its full HD glory)

It's available on Netflix, and even though the plot gets ridiculously goofy, well... that's because it's supposed to be. I highly recommend it! I will probably buy it, and I hope the director does an encore.

Monday, April 12, 2010

8-bit music

An 8-bit collection of Pink Floyd recently rippled through Twitter, followed a few days later by Weezer. It turns out, 8-bit music is as alive and well as 8-bit gaming, maybe even moreso.

Here, in no particular order, is what a little digging this morning unearthed.

First up, thanks to a tweet by @bboru21, I found a site called Pterodactyl Squad, "a video game music netlabel" with a nice collection of free mp3 downloads.

It seems like most of their stuff is original, and would make for really great game room background music. They have a compilation of 8-bit Weezer songs which includes Island in the Sun and Buddy Holly.

There are a few prolific Youtube users cranking out 8-bit renditions. Here are two good ones:

NESsongsrus, who converts everything from classics like Iron Maiden to post-80s artist like Lady Ga Ga and Eminem.

GermanNintendoGamer currently has 50 8-bit tunes, mostly of 80's music and tv shows.

So by now I'm thinking to myself, "Hey, someone should make a Live 365 station with all this 8-bit content..." Naturally, someone has, sort of. 8 BIT RADIO is a channel dedicated to actual gaming music. It is for Live 365 subscribers only (of which I am one, so I can listen to Peter Hirschberg's Retro Arcade Radio station on my iPhone). I'm listening to a piano rendition of the Ocarina of Time theme on it right now, and based on this, would say it's worth the $7.95/month membership fee to access these two stations alone. Especially since it just moved on to a jazz/swing orchestral version of Super Mario Bros. :)

UPDATE: I just discovered a really nice streaming radio station that plays a mix of 8-bit themes and 8-bitized mainstream music (like the Weezer track). It's called 8bit FM, and I highly recommend it if you want to get your classic game on!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Retro Gaming iPhone apps

I've been noticing a number of iPhone apps that have to do with classic gaming, so I thought I'd share them here.


  • Adventure - Peter Hischberg's port of the classic Atari game.
  • Vector Tanks - Actually discovered this one through the textfiles blog. It's a lot of fun to play, very nice integration with iPhone tech.
  • Vector Tanks Extreme - again, textfiles blog. Played it last night for the first time, LOADS of fun! And check out the trailer (below), it is very entertaining!
  • Ms. Pac-Man is the only one so far that I've regretted purchasing. The control is just not responsive enough to really play well.

I've had this crazy notion recently about trying to program games for the 2600. I discovered some very helpful discussions and tutorials for it on AtariAge via a Twitter friend, @JoeShopping. It turns out there are a couple tutorials for this in the form of iPhone apps, by a former Atari 2600 Activision programmer named David Crane (he created Pitfall!).
  • 2600 Magic - holy bleeps, did I really say I wanted to program games for the 2600? It uses scan lines instead of pixels, the scores have to be programmed on the playfield, and the entire program has to be like 4,000k?? At least I'm learning all this on a cool and well-formatted iPhone app. :)
  • Dragster Magic - I haven't cracked into this one yet, it's the sequel to the first, but it was a no-brainer to buy.

That's got to be the tip of the iceberg. What else is out there? I've heard rumors that a Collecovision emulator is in development, for one (I think I read that in Retro Gamer magazine recently, I'll try to dig it up)...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gaming Kitteh

My cat does this too!

Thanks for the heads-up, Sean!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Super Michael Jackson Bros

Did I mention we've moved on to amassing a NES and SNES collection, now that our Atari 2600 hunger has been satisfied?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reaching for Atari

Just took some quick pictures this morning of one wall in the game room:

That top row is all SEGA games (so is the second row), not really my area of expertise. The bottom row, though, is Atari 2600, awwwwww, yeaaah!

Things are a bit disorganized because we were in the process of cleaning all of the cartridges with q-tips. Loads of dirty q-tips later, that part's done. Last Tuesday night we actually had our first late night Atari session, and it was glorious! My husband definitely beat me in Cosmic Ark, but to his chagrine, I took him out in M.A.S.H. Much trash-talking was had by all, and we're going to add a whiteboard so we can keep track of all the games where I have the high score over him.

For background ambiance, I chose Retro Arcade Radio. One of my favorite parts about this station is that they play the old ads for things like the Commodore and Atari. It really sets the mood.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Broken shadows of the past

As I mentioned, we've been acquiring Atari 2600 games on Ebay over the last couple weeks, and most of those shipments have come in now. Yesterday there were two, one in great condition... and one that caused me to write this blog entry.

The second shipment was like happening upon an illegal dog-fighting ring. The condition of the labels ranged from beat to "I survived a fire...if you can call this surviving."

There was a smell of cigarette smoke, too, hanging over everything in the box (whose contents had been carelessly thrown in with no regard). I tried to imagine the individual who would have taken care of stuff in this manner, and thrown them into the box like that. The perfect villain for a dark Toy Story 4.

It was a stark contrast to all the other well packaged, well cared-for shipments we'd seen, labels kept shiny through 20-odd years, often individually wrapped and packed with obvious care. But with this batch, I felt like I was looking at a lawless and neglected bunch of children who'd grown on the mean streets of somewhere. I know we're talking about objects here, not abused animals, but in a way they are all companions from childhood, and I feel a sense of compassion and pity for this pile of plastic I was loath to even touch as I unpacked it.

For some of them, I think a LOT of care and cleaning might save them (and they'll get it), but for others there's NO such chance, and that's sad. There are a finite number of these things left in the world, and while the supply is just fine at the moment, it won't always be, and that number just went down by about 30.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Game Room Rises from the Ashes

After giving up the dream (for now, anyway) of our retro arcade machine (it broke, I couldn't fix it, and programming the controls was like neuroscience so now it's in the garage), the question of what to do with that now-empty basement room arose. The main basement game room, mind you, is a dedicated designer board gaming room. This is the OTHER basement game room we're talking about.

Our focus changed to consoles. After all, we've owned consoles, they're less intimidating than a 500-pound arcade machine, and easier to obtain, for sure. How about a retro 80s console room? In a nutshell, a sort of dream room for us as kids. We've acquired the SEGA Genesis and Master System, but that's more my husband's realm than mine. I was a Magnavox/Atari/NES girl. So the most exciting part for me has been the last couple of weeks, where we focused on Atari 2600.

The first of the spoils of our Atari Ebay efforts arrived in the mail today, just a small collection of a dozen cartridges and a couple controllers, but it was exciting and brought back SO many memories.

Decorating the room is going to be loads of fun. I've got a collection of Ms. Pac-Man bubblegum cards (from a good friend - HI ROBERT! - but I used to spend ALL my allowance on these babies) that will be going up in sleeves on one part of the wall. The rest of them will go into a Trapper Keeper. Probably covered with Trend scratch n' sniff stickers. We're going to take it slow, and make sure we make good choices for the accessories to include, but our Choose Your Own Adventure collection will definitely be on display, and I'm sorely tempted to get some old He-Man action figures...

I've been pondering movie posters, which may be a very hard thing to decide. I think there's room for 5 11 x 17 posters. Will it be Airplane, Breakfast Club, Goonies, Labyrinth and Aliens? Ferris Bueller, Rocky, Red Dawn, Cloak and Dagger, and Wrath of Khan? Much harder than choosing game cartridges.

I already had a neon "Nintendo" logo sign, and an original marketing mobile for Atari 2600 E.T. We used these on one wall so far:

I'll start putting up pictures of the actual room and our console collection soon. One of the best parts? Our 3 and 4 year-olds LOVE it! They're already playing the Genesis games. They dragged the babysitter downstairs to show her the Mario decals on the wall at their first opportunity. So cute.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Tester

11 gamers compete for the lowest spot on the gaming industry totem pole. Hilarity is sure to ensue!

The Tester is a new reality series from Sony debuting February 18th on the PlayStation Network. I just checked out the trailer this morning, mainly wondering if it was a sequel to Grandma's Boy.

"The Tester" is a new original reality series set to debut exclusively on PlayStation®Network. The eight episode series features 11 avid gamers competing in a series of physical and mental elimination challenges to win an actual job as an official PlayStation® game tester along with a $5000 signing bonus.

This looks like it could be good for some laughs, especially with Hal Sparks as one of the panelists (*HEART*) and shameless exploitation of surely every gamer stereotype in the book (my favorite snippet: when the hot chick at the elimination ceremony starts tearfully proclaiming that she "May not look like most gamers..." No wait. my favorite snippet: pouring beer into Apple Jacks for breakfast - "Who wants beerios?" NICE)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Atari Flashback 2+

I just pre-ordered the Atari Flashback 2+ yesterday. It's a recreation of the original Atari 2600 system, with 40 built-in games, along the lines of those little plug and play joysticks that come with classic games already on them. The $30 pre-order (ships February 22) comes with a free t-shirt too (XL only). How can you NOT?

We're busily remodeling our basement arcade room to be a classic console room, so we were already on the hunt for a good original 2600 and original cartridges. But I bought this too, just because it costs less than a single DS game, and the plug and play flexibility means we can use it upstairs (I don't think it's technically allowed in the classic console room). Also, the kids can beat on this one and I won't care. They LOVE classic games!

It does NOT replace a real 2600 in my opinion, but is backwards-compatible with original 2600 joysticks, which I think is pretty cool, if unnecessary.

The part I don't really understand is, why is the predecessor, the Flashback 2, going for $200 on amazon? Just because it was a limited release? It seems to come with the same games this one has (of which, by the way, only half are actual original 2600 games, the other half are "new" Atari games). /shrug

Monday, February 1, 2010

Star Wars vs Star Trek

HUZZAH! I *knew* Star Trek was better than Star Wars!

More proof? We haz it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Elder Scrolls MMO rumors is reporting that work may have secretly been underway on an Elder Scrolls MMO since 2006.

I was actually playing Oblivion last night instead of Star Trek Online because I am struggling with the concept of being able to ever handle the time demands of an MMO again (even though I've pre-ordered STO, because... it's freaking TREK). I don't know if I WANT Elder Scrolls to be an MMO. Do I want to feel all that time pressure to "keep up?"

I know that change is always scary, but can be good. It can also be bad. My initial reaction to this is that I don't WANT it to be an MMO. I want my story-rich open-ended experience where I get to poke around indefinitely and do whatever I want, without running into some griefer or kid hitting the jump button ad infinitum.

I'm so in love with Oblivion the way it is, I was really looking forward to embarking again on a similar adventure style. I'd be very sad if that never happens again.