Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[Stuff] The Non TV Lineup


Trying Something New

So, I was doing some google searching online to find out how to reach more people with my blog and one of the suggestions I came across was to invite guest bloggers.  I was trying to figure out a way to reach a different demographic than "Moms" and/or "Book Readers" so I decided to give this guest blogger thing a try.

My hubby has graciously agreed to write the occasional article pertaining to things that my regular readers may not know about or normally seek out information on.  I think this will bring a nice dynamic to my blog!  If you don't find the article interesting yourself, but know someone that might PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share it!  Also, if you have a topic you'd like either of us to write about, please leave a comment below and tell us!


Thanks for reading and without further ado...


So... Web Shows...

Years ago, when we all used to play media files in WinAmp instead of VLC, there was this show called "What The Muffins?"... it looks like the guys stopped after a few episodes but you can still find them on YouTube. Since then there have been a number of web shows that have garnered my interest but it seems like recently there has been a veritable smorgasbord of tasty tasty shows.

I know that there has been a concerted effort made by Google with their YouTube channels thing to make quality new content but I feel like that might have been more a case of them noticing and capitalizing on something than instigating but, regardless of who we have to thank for it, there's a lot of good stuff.

Why This Post?
A lot of different people have been discussing the topic of video programming from many different angles recently so the topic has been on my mind. Also, it feels like a lot of this stuff kinda came into my radar over the last two months.

But what really inspired me was Friday night my wife and I... seeing as all the seasons of the TV shows we like to watch had ended... were looking for stuff to watch. We hooked up the laptop to the living room television and spent the evening watching nothing but web shows. Admittedly we watched a whole week's worth of web shows but it seems to me that, if things continue this way, I could replace TV prime time with web shows. I'm starting to think of them as "shows" without the "web" in front.

Before I Begin
One thing you notice about web shows is that, because they aren't on network television they aren't rated. In many cases this is a good thing because it means you can have mature content without it focusing on being mature. In Network TV I find that you don't get stories about adults doing adult things without it also having lot's of sex and swearing and violence... it's like if they break that "family safe" seal they need to throw as much sex, swearing and violence as possible in their to make it worth it, while web shows can just have that guy drink alcohol on screen and be done with it.

I won't be linking to stuff with nudity in it but there is a good chance of violence, swearing, drug and alcohol use, innuendo and the like... so while I can probably recommend these links to all but the most easily offended, I also suggest you don't watch them the first time at work or around your kids.

That said, the tone of these things is usually apparent from watching the first episode so you'll be able to decide pretty quickly if it's something you're comfortable with.

The List

No list of this type would be complete without...
The Guild -
You've probably heard about it and seen an episode... I've fallen behind on it myself but it's basically about people who play an MMORPG and it is excellent.

The logical followup to The Guild is...
Geek&Sundry -
Geek and Sundry isn't just one show... it is a collection of weekly shows.

You start the week out Monday with "The Flog" which is basically Felicia Day doing a video blog... but unlike most video blogs it's got the production values of a "real" show... because it IS a real show. In a way, it's a bit like the Daily Show but without the fake news... though that's not quite the right analogy. Anyways, super worth the watch.

Tuesdays they've been putting up old episodes of The Guild with bonus features... so old fans have something to come back for and it will also give new people a chance to catch up with the series... they haven't been entirely clear what their long term plans are on this front because The Guild has traditionally been tied to a weird model where they had to release it exclusive to Microsoft for a while before posting it anywhere else... but anyways, still awesome.

Wednesday is Dark Horse Motion Comics... which hasn't been my thing... though I've been watching them anyway.

Thursday is extra bonus material for the shows.

Friday alternates between "The Sword & Laser" which is a video book club/talk show, and "Tabletop" which is about how awesome Wil Weaton is... I mean about board games.  Of particular note, the Ticket to Ride episode of Tabletop is probably one of the best things ever.

The crazy thing about all these G&S shows is that it feels like I'm watching Network TV but the stuff I'm watching doesn't suck... as apposed to watching stuff that's awesome but looks like a cable access show. It's hard to explain it so I'd highly recommend you check the channel out and see for yourself... it doesn't take much time.

Speaking of not taking much time...
5 Second Films -
Basically an absurdist webcomic in video form. Really... the name tells you everything you need to know about this series other then it's usually entertaining and often hilarious.

Speaking of absurdist webcomics...
SMBC Theater -
This one is sketch comedy like 5sf but more long-form.

Oh and I shouldn't forget this one while talking about webcomics...
Penny-Arcade TV -
Penny Arcade is a webcomic that is nominally about video games that has gotten so big that they have a staff, a building, a charity, host two sold out conventions a year and sell a lot of t-shirts... a while back they started doing a reality show about the company... and "Penny Arcade: The Series" is like watching a show like "LA Ink" or "Cake Boss" except about the people who make a webcomic and the business that has grown up around their creations.

You either like Penny Arcade or you don't and if you do you've probably already watching this one... but my wife doesn't read Penny Arcade and isn't all that into video games or web comics and she really enjoys the show. It has appeal independent of the comic and is just a great show... again top-notch "Network Television" production values applied to something niche.

PATV has a number of other great shows coming out on a weekly basis that I'd suggest you check out. They lack the "broad appeal" of "The Series" but their still pretty great.

"CheckPoint" is worth particular mention. It's basically SNL's Weekend Update except for video game industry news... it's topical and the production values have been increasing as the series has gone on so you're probably best to just start with the most recent episode and move backwards.

Speaking of CheckPoint...
The Escapist -
Yeah... site about video games but also host to a whole bunch of great web shows. The CheckPoint people have a sketchcom on there called Loading Ready Run.

Also worth mentioning on there is Zero Punctuation, yes it's a series of video game review videos. It's great. It should even appeal to people who hate video games because his reviews are regularly vitriolic attacks on the games he's reviewing and consistently funny.

...oh and then there is...
Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'? -
This is one that I hadn't seen before a few months ago and went and watched all the archives of... this is a more old-school low budget show but it's well done and despite each episode standing on it's own there is a kind of loose story line running through the background.

Last but certainly not least... actually more of a "saved the best for last"...
VGHS - hosted at
Two episodes in and already I'm feeling like this is the best web show ever... it's only two episodes into the first season but it's on a weekly schedule so there will be more soon.

You've basically got a near future world where Video Games are the highest priority, players are celebrities and every gamer hopes to go to the elite Video Game High School. It is, literally, laugh out loud funny... as in I actually laughed out loud while watching it. It's witty, it's clever... it's about a world where video game culture IS mainstream culture.

I don't know how their doing it but it's like watching one of those lame iCarly, Victorious, Hannah Montana, 90210 style big budget shows except it's actually about things I would have cared about in HS.
oh... and I almost forgot this one because I saw it a while ago but they got their second season funded and in production now I think...
JourneyQuest - hosted at
This one is basically a D&D style Fantasy role-playing story... it's a good balance of parody and homage... but acted out in full costume. It reminds me a bit of the old Xena, Hercules and Sinbad shows I watched when I was a kid.

It's really well put together and they got the funding so their second season is being put together right now. All in all it is definitely worth a watch.


Do you have a favourite web show that I missed? Is my callous dismissal of all the other great shows online just because they don't have high production budgets offensive to you? Comment or whatever.

~ SinbadEV

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Star Wars Jawa Costume Review

I know, I know, What on earth is a Jawa, right? Well, let me give you a little background on this creature. Here is what Wikipedia had to say about Jawas.

"The Jawas are a pygmy rodentlike race inhabiting the desert planet of Tatooine. They are a hardworking people that work as scavengers and tinkerers, picking up discarded/broken machinery and fixing it up for sale. Being bald and pale, they are entirely covered in red or brown cloaks and their glowing yellow eyes are the only body parts visible. However, they do appear to have hairy arms in Episode IV.

For transport on the desert world, they use long-abandoned mining Sandcrawlers. These lumbering giants can house a family unit as well as store cargo that they have collected on their journeys. Jawas belong to clans. Half of the clan work in the sandcrawlers while the other half live in desert fortresses in remote areas. These fortresses have high walls made from large chunks of old wrecked spaceships for protection against Tusken Raiders and krayt dragons. They also serve as a home for the rest of the Jawa clan which store the wealth gathered by the other family unit in the sandcrawlers.

They are usually 1m to 1.5m tall (between three and five feet). Jawas also employ a variable language. This means that almost no other species can understand their language, due to the fact that any given word can have more than four different meanings."

My Thoughts:
Growing up watching the ORIGINAL Star Wars movies, I took a liking to the Jawas right away. Maybe it was because they, like me, were child like in their size and their babbling just sounded really cool too! I jumped at the opportunity to review a Jawa costume for Wholesale Star Wars Costumes even though I think it was more to reminisce about my own youth rather than to introduce the Jawa to my now 4 and 2 1/2 yr. olds. My kids have never seen any of the Star Wars movies (unless there is something my hubby isn't telling me). Their first reaction was, "Can I wear it?!"

The costume quality is amazing and the price point is fantastic at only $28.90!  This particular costume includes the Robe, Double Banndolier, and a Hooded mask with Light Up Eyes. The picture of the costume varies slightly in that the eyes are not yellow, but they light up red. It still looks REALLY cool! One downfall is that the batteries on the eye lights is not replaceable and there is no auto shut off on them so you must be diligent about turning them off after wearing your costume. The Banndoliers are made of a foamish material and they velcro right to the robe. This is great because it allows them to move with your body.

I ordered and received my costume within about a weeks time. I ordered the size Small costume which is listed on the packaging as U.S.A. size 4-6 for 3-4 Years. I figured this would be a safe bet since she's 4 and it's for 3-4 yr. olds. This was not the case. Upon pulling the robe out of the package, I quickly realized that this was NOT going to fit my 4 yr. old. The robe was EXTREMELY long! Just for kicks and giggles, I tried the costume on myself. If I threw on a pair of black leggings, I could be the Jawa! It was that big. I immediately checked the tag of the costume to make sure the wrong size hadn't ended up in the package, but the tag says small just like the packaging. Keep in mind that I'm 5'8" tall and this came down to my knees!

Nonetheless, I let both my kids try the costume on, but they couldn't safely do much in it. The robe was just too long and they couldn't walk without tripping. They did, however, really enjoy wearing the costume and asked me to take lots of pictures.

The mask is also very large. I put it on with the eyes turned on and I found that it got warm quite quickly between the plastic part that encases the wires for the LED lights and the LED lights giving off heat themselves. This probably wouldn't be too much of an issue though at the end of October as it is often snowing here then.

I think that if I was to recommend this costume, it would have to be for a child that is 6-8 yrs. old and that's if they are a little on the tall side.

**DISCLAIMER: I received a Star Wars Jawa Costume in exchange for my opinion on the product.  All opinions are my own and were in no way influenced by the sponsor.**

Saturday, May 5, 2012