Archived entries for General Geekdom

Blank dice can solve all your problems.

Blank Dice

Every single day, I have the same exact discussion with my co-worker:

One of us: “What do you wanna do for lunch today?”

The other: “I dunno. What do you wanna do for lunch today?”

And so it goes, back and forth a few times until we eventually settle on one of the three or four places we always order from anyway.

Today, however, my world was changed she she casually suggested, “We need dice.”

Lunch dice?! Brilliant!

Why waste time quibbling over what to order for lunch if you could just roll the dice and let fate decide? Naturally I wasted no time Googling to see if such a thing already existed; surely this can’t be an original idea. The closest thing I could find, however, are these ultra-lame “dinner dice” that are meant to help you decide what to cook but overwhelm and confuse you with choices (Really? There’s an “omnivore” set?). This wouldn’t do.

Blank dice. That’s what we needed.

Blank dice that you can write on with dry erase markers and wipe off? Even better. Who knew I’d go shopping at an educational product store today? I ordered a set of these little beauties post-haste so that we’ll never have to agonize over Season’s Pizzeria or Pat’s Pizzeria again.

But why stop there?


Just think of all the life problems you could potentially solve with blank dice. My mind is already a whirlwind of possibilities.

  • Which Karate Kid movie should I watch again for the hundredth time?
  • What video game, of the ten I just bought, should I play first?
  • Which bill should I skip paying this month?
  • What sexual position should we try?
  • Which Ninja Turtles t-shirt should I wear today?
  • What pointless thing should I blog about next?

TMNT Superfan Reviews the New Nickelodeon Turtles Action Figures

So, apparently some Toys’R’Us stores are already selling the new Nickelodeon series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, even though we weren’t supposed to get them until August. (The new TMNT show premieres Saturday, September 29.)

Michele Ivy, unquestionably one of the biggest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans I know, was was lucky enough to get her hands on them early from a store in Mesa, Arizona. She posted a great in-depth review over at Cowabunga Corner and this hands-on video review:


I still have a couple of the original TMNT action figures, even some in boxes, but I don’t consider myself a collector by any means. However, ever since pictures of the new Nickelodeon toy series debuted earlier this year, I’ve been drooling over them on a daily basis. I mean, just look at them!

TMNT Action Figures

A lot of TMNT fans don’t seem to like the character designs for the new show, and I admit they took a little while to grow on  me. But you have to admit the Turtles look pretty badass here.

For shiggles, I checked my local Toys’R’Us store today, and not only did they NOT have these toys yet, they had no frickin’ idea what I was talking about when I asked about them. (But thanks for making me waste ten minutes while you dicked around on the Toys’R’Us website, “Debbie” the “Customer Service Associate” as if I hadn’t already done that myself.) So that my trip into that area of town wasn’t a complete waste, I swung by Jiffy Lube to get my oil changed, which is something I’ve been meaning to do anyway.

So to recap:

Butthurt Dweller

Does that qualify as being an adult?

I can already tell ‘Cards Against Humanity’ is going to be awesome.

Cards Against Humanity Box

My impulse buy this week was a party game called Cards Against Humanity. I’ve never actually played it before, but heard it described as “Apples to Apples for assholes.” Sold!

I ordered it Monday night and it arrived today (thanks Amazon Prime!) in the simple but imposing black box you see above. My curiosity got the better of me, so I took out a random sampling of cards. Here’s what I pulled:

Cards Against Humanity

I’ll be on vacation next week with my boyfriend who has an even sicker sense of humor than I do, and a bunch of people who like to drink heavily. I have a feeling that with this purchase I just preemptively made our week together more awesome.

Goofy vs. Pluto & Other Failures of Evolution

Goofy vs. Pluto

The evolutionary inconsistencies between Goofy and Pluto are well documented. The Cliff’s Notes version of the debate goes something like this: They’re both dogs, both Disney characters, and yet only one of them talks, wears clothes, drives a car, and performs other basic human-like functions like walking on two legs while the other does not. Why is that?

It’s a conundrum that was immortalized by the movie Stand By Me and has been puzzling Disney fans since at least 1986. While there has never been a satisfactory answer (and probably never will be), the great Goofy/Pluto debate is just the jumping off point for a much broader topic of discussion:

In worlds full of talking animals, why are some of them just pets?

Talking Animals vs. Pets

Cartoons and kid’s movies are rife with examples of the “talking animals” vs. “just a pet” phenomenon in which animal characters with human-like counterparts seem to have been left behind by evolution. It’s the equivalent of a human being keeping a lesser human being as a pet.

But what’s the rationale for it? Did these characters fall out of the phylogenetic tree? Is it meant to be some sort of statement on the human superiority complex? Or is it just a lack of imagination on the part of the creators?

This is the kind of weird crap I lay awake at night thinking about. To illustrate my confusion, I thought it would be a fun (if useless) exercise to put together a list of examples.

Bugs & Daffy vs. Sylvester & Tweety

Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck vs. Sylvester & Tweety

In the world of Looney Tunes, you have your intelligent, free-thinking, almost-human animal characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck alongside animals who are clearly kept as pets like Sylvester and Tweety Bird. Do you think Sylvester ever looks at his famous singing, dancing non-pet animal acquaintances and wonders why his own existence sucks?

Rowlf vs. Other Muppet Dogs

Rowlf vs. Other Muppet Dogs

There are lots of dogs in the Muppet universe, but Rowlf is the most popular. And unlike most of the other Muppet dogs, he can talk, hold down a job, and jam on the piano like it’s nobody’s business. But in the same universe you have dogs like Barkley, who is apparently only good for accompanying dumb kids on their way to Sesame Street.

The most glaring example of these disparities can be found in The Muppets Take Manhattan, where Rowlf takes a job managing a kennel full of other dogs, both of the real and Muppet variety.

Sir Didymus vs. Ambrosius/Merlin

Here’s another great example from Muppetdom:

Sir Didymus Riding Ambrosius/Merlin

In the movie Labyrinth, Sir Didymus is a dog (a fox-terrier, to be exact) character who believes he’s a brave and chivalrous knight. He rides around on his “trusty steed” which is an actual dog named Ambrosius who is, well, just a dog. As if this weren’t ridiculous enough, Ambrosius is the Labyrinth version of Merlin, the family dog we see running home with Sarah in the beginning.

Now bear with me if you’re not familiar with Labyrinth, because I’m about to go off on a bit of a tangent. At the beginning of the movie, we get a glimpse of Sarah’s bedroom, which contains all manner books, figurines and other knicknacks that later come to life in some fashion after she enters the Labyrinth. For example, there’s a dwarf figurine that’s clearly representative of Hoggle and a snow globe that looks an awful lot like the goblin masquerade ball. So if you’re keeping up, we’ve got a bunch of inanimate objects that come to life inside the Labyrinth alongside a real dog that…just stays a dog– except with the added humiliation of having another dog ride him.

Garfield vs. Odie

Garfield vs. Odie

Garfield and Odie are an especially interesting case study. Both are domestic pets living under the same roof, but Garfield is an intelligent, wisecracking, connoisseur of lasagna while Odie is, in most scenarios, just a stupid, slobbering dog.

Spongebob vs. Gary

Spongebob vs. Gary

Spongebob Squarepants is perhaps the ultimate slap in the face to animal characters who’ve been relegated to just being pets. The world of Bikini Bottom is filled with anthropomorphic sea creatures (with the exception of one very innovative squirrel), but Spongebob himself is an inanimate object. So why does he have a pet snail named Gary, who, also inexplicably,  meows like a cat? That’s right, in this show a sponge exhibits more human characteristics than a snail.

Final Thoughts

Next time someone brings up the tired Goofy vs. Pluto debate at a party, you can whip out one of these much cooler examples and pretend like you’re semi-knowledgeable about a subject that ultimately nobody cares about.

Now that I’ve spent way too much time thinking about stupid crap, I’m off to go home to my very un-anthropomorphic cat.

The Factuary: ‘Game of Thrones’ is “Downton Abbey with Rape and Dragons”

The Factuary: Game of Thrones Explained

The Factuary is quickly becoming one of my new favorite YouTube shows. It’s a series of condensed “everything you need to know about random subject X” videos created, written and hosted by Guy Branum for Thrash Lab. It’s great for busy people with two jobs, a busy gaming schedule who also run a blog (know anybody like that?) to get caught up on pop culture knowledge and digest books, TV shows and other media with complicated subject matter.

Oh, and did I mention they’re fucking hysterical? Take this 2:44 minute explainer for Game of Thrones, for example:



Here’s some other subjects I found enlightening: Tupac Shakur vs. Notorious B.I.G and the Evolution of Dubstep.

New episodes of The Factuary arrive every Thursday.

5 Geeky TV Shows I Wish Were Real

I’ll admit it: sometimes I sit around and dream up fantasy TV show concepts. When you consume as much television as I do, it takes a lot for a show to really grab you. ‘Course, it doesn’t help that I grow more cynical and jaded with each passing year, but I digress.

Now, I’m not a producer or anything, and I’ve never pitched a television show in my life, but I’m pretty sure that if any of the following show ideas were to suddenly exist tomorrow, it would be an instant success.

Here are five geeky TV show concepts that I wish were real:

“Pickers” for Gamers

Pickers for Gamers

You know the show American Pickers on the History channel? Well this would be  pretty much the same thing except a pair of nerds–the less socially skilled and more awkward, the better–would go around to yard sales, liquidations, private collectors’ homes, maybe even Craigslist and Ebay in search of rare and valuable video games and gaming collectibles. You know, stuff like the Medieval Madness pinball table, Air Raid for Atari 2600, or the Virtual Boy (just kidding about that last one–nobody really wants one of those things).

On the real Pickers, the two hosts negotiate to the point of highway robbery. This show would be the opposite because gamers are sentimental fanboys who are known to put things like rare, ridonkulously expensive Neo Geo cartridges ahead of their financial future–which is part of the appeal too, so that we at home can all have a good laugh about it.

Working Titles:

  • Epic Looters
  • Shit Gamers Will Pay Obscene Amounts of Money For

Project Photoshop

Like Project Runaway for Photoshop

Think Project Runway, except replace the wannabe fashion designers for wannabe graphic designers. Actually, the contestants don’t even need to be skilled graphic designers at all–the show would be funnier with randomly selected netizens with amateur Photoshop skills. The contestants would face off against each other in extreme Photoshop challenges, timed of course, in categories such as Meme Generation, Fat Celebrity Makeovers, Motivational Posters, Fake Products, Movie Poster Mashups, and the other highly creative but ultimately useless art forms that Photoshop has become infamous for. It goes without saying that use of Comic Sans would result in an instant elimination.

In keeping with the spirit of the original show, the designers could still present their masterpieces on the runway–except it would be a virtual runway where home viewers would be able to participate in the eliminations via live social media-based voting. Holy shit this show sounds awesome.

Working Titles:

  • Photoshopping with the Tards
  • Clone Stamp for the Win

Hip Service

Lip Service for Hipsters

Remember that show Lip Service that used to be on MTV in the early ’90s? If you’re too young (or too old) to remember it, Lip Service was a game show where the contestants  divided up into teams and had to lip sync their way through a grab bag of randomly selected popular songs of the day. The in-house DJ (who was Spinderella of Salt ‘N Pepa, by the way) would mix the music live. You could get Ice Ice Baby, Vogue and Unskinny Bop back to back, or it could be Come Baby Come, I Touch Myself, and Blame It on the Rain–it was anyone’s guess! The team that lip synced the most convincingly is the team that won.

Similarly, Hip Service would follow the same format except all the contestants would be hipsters and all the music would be from obscure bands that you’ve probably never heard of, like St. Agnes Charm School, Crotch Mittens and Zebrapants (and don’t bother Googling those bands because I just made them up). See, hipsters take their music very seriously and there is nothing funnier than some fucking hipster who doesn’t know the words to obscure, shitty music that only hipsters are supposed to like. Isn’t it deliciously ironic?

Working Titles:

  • Music Is Too Mainstream
  • I Was Into Lip Syncing Before It Was Cool

Win Mark Zuckerberg’s Money

Win Mark Zuckerberg's Money

You’re familiar with Win Ben Stein’s Money, right? Well, since Mark Zuckerberg has more money than God, I figure he could stand to give a little bit of it away. And just like Ben Stein, Mark would be a contestant on his own show in a sporting attempt to protect his assets and ward off competitors. Here’s the fun part, though: all questions will be related to Facebook’s murky privacy policies, sketchy terms of service, and barely-there technical support that even The Zuck himself doesn’t get. So pretty much everyone stands a good chance of winning.

Working Titles:

  • “Like” Mark Zuckerberg On Facebook to Win
  • Win The Winklevii’s Money

The Biggest Loser: Zombie Edition

The Biggest Loser - Zombie Edition

I don’t watch The Biggest Loser, mostly because it depresses the hell out of me, but I can tell you for a fact I’d watch the shit out of The Biggest Loser if the show was anything like the pic above. I got this idea after hearing about Run For Your Lives, a zombie-themed 5K event/obstacle course that is as every bit as bitchin’ as it sounds. Getting in shape is much more effective when your very life depends upon it, say, when you’re running from a horde of brain-lusting zombies. It doesn’t even matter that zombies aren’t real (…yet). I’m running the hell away from anything that looks like that. By the way, don’t forget it’s Zombie Awareness Month!

Working Title:

  • The Running Dead
  • The Biggest Meal

 Just for fun…

If any of these show concepts had any shot in hell of becoming a reality, which one would you want to watch the most?

Meet Wes, a Guy Who Draws Ninja Turtles (Almost) Every Day

Last week I was randomly browsing #TMNT on Twitter (I think it was sometime during the the Bayliens backlash) when I stumbled upon this guy.

Turtle a Day

His name is Wes and he has a cute TMNT blog where he draws a new Ninja Turtle picture every day.  Well, almost every day.

He readily admits that he’s not an artist–which is apparent from the lined notebook paper and crayon scribbles that adorn his work–but he loves to draw Ninja Turtles so that’s exactly what he does!

There’s something kind of charming about a grown man who loves to draw Ninja Turtles without a care in the world about what anyone thinks or even if the drawings are any good.  As I mentioned on his blog, it takes me back to my junior high days when I spent most of my time in class drawing Ninja Turtles (very poorly) and not doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing.

I asked Wes if he took requests, and he was more than happy to humor me with this amazeballs picture of Raphael, my favorite Turtle, crouching on the rooftops of New York City:

TMNT Raphael on Patrol (Front)

Note the gargoyle thrown in as an added bonus! I have no idea how Wes knew that Gargoyles was also one of my favorite shows from childhood. I’m pretty sure that my finding his blog was writ in destiny.

The next day he drew me the same picture but from a different perspective:

Raphael TMNT Drawing (Back)

Totally shelltastic AND refrigerator worthy.

Anyway, check out Wes’s “Turtle a Day” blog for more original, hand drawn Ninja Turtle goodness and occasional reviews about the other nerdy and equally awesome stuff he’s into (which he also cleverly illustrates with Ninja Turtles).   And what a nice guy, too.

10 Unusual Wines that Geeks Would Love

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, any one of these wines would make an awesome gift to present to that special geek in your life:

Wines for Gamers

Player 1 by 8-bit Vintners

“Player 1″ was created by an actual gamer, and comes from the winemaking region of Walla Walla, Washington.  Owner/gamer Mike James says, “My wine is for anyone who spent time trying to save a princess or fit odd shaped blocks together. We may have never met, but we have more in common than we ever knew. So blow out that old Contra cartridge, give the NES a good dust off, and pour yourself a glass.”  Sadly, 8-bit Vintners has closed up shop, but you can still purchase the wine on Ebay and other places (if you know where to look).

Player 1 - Wines for Gamers

Boss Monster by Woot Cellars

This 2007 zinfandel from Woot Cellars is representative of every terrible boss you’ve ever encountered in a video game (though I think he looks vaguely reminiscent of Phantoon from Super Metroid).  “Boss Monster” is a limited edition wine that is only sometimes available via Wine.Woot.  If you like wine and enjoy getting a good deal, you might want to sign up for Wine.Woot’s deal-a-day style offers.

Boss Monster - Wines for Gamers

Stunlock, nOOb, & Gamer Window  by GamerWine

GamerWine is available in three varieties with relatable names: Stunlock, a rich red; nOOB, a full-bodied Merlot; and Gamer Window, a smooth Pinot Grigio.  Suggested pairings:  Hot Pockets, Pizza Rolls and Cheetos.

Stunlock, n00b, Gamer Window - Wines for Gamers

Wines for Fantasy Film Buffs

The Bottle of Wits by Alamo Drafthouse

“The Bottle of Wits” is a new line of signature wines by Alamo Drafthouse inspired by everyone’s favorite 80′s fantasy film, The Princess Bride, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.  The line includes both red and white varieties: “As You Wish White,” a light, golden medium-bodied California blend, and “Inconceivable Cab,” a 2009 vintage California Cabernet.  The wine will go for sale online starting February 14, 2012.

The Bottle of Wits - Wines for Fantasy Film Buffs

Wines for Horror Fans

Zombie Zin by Chateau Diana Winery

From Chateau Diana Winery in Healdsburg, California comes “Zombie Zinfandel” that is blood-red in color and described as “horridly rich in concentrated fruit flavors with a finish that never dies!” Clever.  And here I thought the only zombies with mohawks were from Tirisfal Glades.

Zombie Zin - Wines for Horror Fans

Return of the Living Red by Redheads Studio

“Return of the Living Red” is a red wine from Redheads Studio (I see what they did there), which is a small winery in South Australia. The wine is dark garnet in color, full-bodied, with flavors of currants and blackberries.  The gruesome (but awesome) packaging was designed by Mash.

Return of the Living Red - Wines for Horror Fans

Killibinbin by Brothers in Arms

This collection of “killer” wines is by Brothers in Arms of the Metalia vineyard, also in South Australia (side note: why does Australia have all the cool wines?).  The labels were designed after vintage horror movie posters to play up the “kill” part of the wine’s name.

Killabinbin - Wines for Horror Fans


Vampire, Dracula & Trueblood by Vampire Vineyards

When it comes to vampire-themed wines, Vampire Vineyards pretty much has the market cornered.  The vineyard’s full line includes Vampire, Dracula, Trueblood, and Chateau du Vammpire.  There’s even red Vampire Vodka, and the company is also branching out into other vampire-themed beverages  like soda, coffee and energy drinks.  Thanks to the popularity of Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, etc, it’s no surprise that this type of blatant pandering has also been very successful for the company (just read their nauseating About Us page).

Vampire Wines - Wines for Horror Fans


Wines for Techies

USB Port by Peltier Station

A zinfandel dessert wine, “USB Port” (get it?) has a rich, sweet flavor that balances chocolate with ruby cherry and spice. Sounds delicious.  Just don’t try to plug it into your laptop.

USB Port - Wines for Techies

 Educated Guess by Roots Run Deep

This Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the flagship wine of Roots Run Deep winery, who would like you to make an “educated guess” about which wine to choose.  The very technical, smart-looking label depicts actual winemaking formula strings that chemists would use.

Educated Guess - Wines for Techies

5 Virtual Retro Toys You Can Play With Online

The other day I stumbled upon a site that archives those wonderful old Read-Along adventure books and makes them available for download.  It made me nostalgic for other toys I remember fondly from childhood, and I went on somewhat of a quest to see how many virtual versions of old toys I could find.

If you’re feeling up for a bit of retrotainment and have some time to kill, these virtual toys are as close as you can get to the real thing.


» Play with Simon
Possibly the greatest toy from the 1980s, Simon was like an audio/visual assault on your basic memory recall skills.  It frequently made us feel inferior, but those flashy lights and synthesizer sounds kept us happy in our button-mashing comas.  And who didn’t want to be that bad-ass Johnny kid from this commercial?  WARNING: This is addictive!

Speak & Spell

» Play with Speak & Spell
The original hand-held electronic learning toy that paved the way for decades of imitations.  What child of the late 70s/early 80s didn’t have one of these things?  Plus, according to E.T. you could hack this baby to phone home the mothership.


» Play with Etch-a-Sketch
My skill at virtual Etch-a-Sketch is only slightly less sucky than my skill at actual Etch-a-Sketch.

This one lets you print out your creations, but sadly lacks a shake-to-erase feature.  Still, it’s a fun time-waster.

Rubik’s Cube

» Play with Rubik’s Cube
I was never able to solve one of these stupid things, let alone do it in 8 seconds.  If you had a cheaply-made Rubik’s like I did, you could try to cheat and rearrange the stickers.  This virtual one has realistic twisty-turny action! (And all the frustration of the real thing.)

Lite Brite

» Play with Lite Brite
There’s no telling how much damage we did to our retinas staring into these things.  Lite Brites were a relaxing way for artistic kids to spend a rainy Saturday.  Personally, I never had the patience to finish my designs, or I’d accidentally shake the thing and little plastic pegs would go flying.

I’m still holding out hope for virtual Magna-Doodle.  Now go have fun reliving your childhood!

How do you manage your ever-growing media wish list?

WANTED:  A better solution for discovering and consuming new media.  First things first:  It seems inappropriate to call what I’m talking about a “wish list” because…

A) I don’t necessarily intend to shop for and purchase said media, nor do I always want to receive it as a gift.  While there’s a bunch of great, free tools out there like Amazon’s Wish List and Wish Radar, these tools are geared more toward making a purchase and not mere consumption.

B) Most wish list tools are shopping-based and don’t cater well to old media like out-of-print books, hard-to-find movies, or retro/legacy games on dead platforms.  And what about obscure TV shows never released on DVD?  Try adding Out of this World to your Amazon wish list.

C) The media I’m interested in isn’t always released yet. I often put upcoming movies, books, albums, and games on my list that may be a year or more away from a release date.  How do you account for these types of things using a wish list system that is based on available/purchasable products?

In short, my media wish list is more like a “To Do” list. I have a “To Play” list for games; a “To Watch” list for movies and TV shows; a “To Read” list for books; and a “To Listen” list for new artists and album I want to check out.  I don’t necessarily call all these different lists “To _______ Lists,” but that’s essentially what they are.  Their sole purpose is to help me discover new media and keep it on my radar until I’ve had time to watch it, play it, read it, or listen to it.

So how do I keep up with it all? Here is my system…of sorts:

1.  Post-Its and Paper Scraps I am perpetually writing notes-to-self on Post-Its and paper scraps containing unorganized, off-the-cuff lists of things I’ve heard about or read about in my online and offline travels.  For example, if I’m browsing a gamer forum and some user recommends a game that sounds like I might enjoy, I’ll write its name down, perhaps alongside a short note that lends some helpful context like: “Shadow of the Comet (PC) – Lovecraftian AG.”  If I hear a song I like on the radio while I’m out somewhere, I’ll try to scribble down lyrics so I can look it up later.  By the end of any given week, my messenger bag’s outer pocket contains a stash of folded, wadded-up notes that I’ll later re-visit and add to my wish list(s), then toss the paper.

2.  Google Docs My actual media wish list is a series of Google Docs containing separate lists for Movies/TV Shows, Music, Games, and Books.  These are, of course, neater than my handwritten notes but still pretty raw and organized.  Also, there’s no real sense of priority.  Depending on the list, I might add some extra info, like release date/year for movies, platform and genre for games, etc.  I like storing this info in Google Docs because I can access and manage my lists as easily as I do email.  Perhaps one day I’ll graduate to a more sophisticated Google Spreadsheet, but the Docs get me by for now.

3.  Plan-Ahead Shopping & Streaming  When I’m in the mood and can make the time to actually watch/play/read/listen to something, I’ll browse through my wish list(s) ahead of time and pick whatever looks appetizing…followed by a trip to the store, library, Netflix, iTunes, XBMC, torrent site, or wherever it is that I might purchase or download it.

4. Reviews, Recommendations, & Taste Engines — Needless to say, my media wish list is never empty, but it also doesn’t just contain things I stumble upon.  I will often seek out and discover new media by consulting a personalized arsenal of review sites, recommendation sites, and taste engines that includes Netflix, Jinni, GoodReads, Amazon, GamerDNA, just to name a few.  Then there’s the countless review and preview blogs that entice me to pile it on even thicker.  I do get a lot of genuinely great recommendations this way, but as always, it seems more gets added to my lists vs. gets removed.

What this all this boils down to is that I’m approaching a state of media overload and I need a better way to cope with it. Short of quitting my job and devoting all day to playing video games and watching movies (a girl can dream, can’t she?), I need a better solution that will track, prioritize, remind me about, and remember all this media that I plan to consume, whether it’s old, new, or unreleased.  Is there a single system out there that can do all this?

The comments are wide open to your suggestions, app recommendations, and/or pithy remarks about my being a media junkie with no life who needs help!

10 Gifts for Geeks for $10 or Less

With Christmas right around the corner, I thought it would be fun (and hopefully helpful) to put together a list of inexpensive gift ideas for geeks, all for under $10. (And I’m not going to cheat and mention $10 gift cards, either!)

Pocket LED Flashlight

Pocket LED Flashlight

“May it be a light to you in dark places…”

Every geek needs a good flashlight, and even better if it fits in our pocket!  Great for wrangling with hard-to-see computer connections or venturing behind our A/V systems to connect new gear, a bright LED flashlight is a must-have.  X-treme Geek sells a nice mini LED flashlight for just $9.99.



Geek Power-Ups

If there is one universal truth, it’s that geeks can ALWAYS use more batteries.  Between our wireless keyboards, wireless mouses, digital cameras, wireless game controllers, A/V remotes, Nintendo DSs, PSPs, laser pointers, gizmos, gadgets–wait, what was I saying?  Oh right: MOAR BATTERIES!  You can’t go wrong giving geeks a nice big pack of AA or AAA batteries.  A tad impersonal, but extremely practical and definitely appreciated–particularly during those moments we realize our battery supply is critically low and we dread thought of actually getting up to change the channel.



For Your Sharpie Fetish

We love our Sharpies.  They’re great for everything from labeling the latest disc of pirated legally downloadable software you burned to Sharpie-ing perverse things all over your friend’s face when he falls asleep drunk on your couch. (Don’t ask.)  From Ultra Fine Points to Sharpie Minis to good ‘ol Original, there’s a Sharpie product in a wide range of colors for every geek’s Sharpie fetish.

Blizzard Authenticator

Blizzard Authenticator


Over 11 million people play World of Warcraft.  Odds are you know at least one of them, and have no idea what to get them for Christmas.  The Blizzard Authenticator is a must-have accessory for anyone that plays WoW.  It protects their account from keyloggers, trojans, and other malicious attacks.  It’s a great gift and for just $6.50, it’s also super inexpensive.

Moleskine Pocket Journals

Moleskine Journal

Low-tech productivity app!

The “legendary notebook used for the past two centuries” (if you believe their marketing bull), Moleskine brand notebooks are a favorite low-tech vice of writers, artists, and geeks to ceremoniously commit our thoughts and sketches to paper.  Though the full-size notebooks are a bit pricey, you can score a pack of 3 cashier pocket Moleskines for about $8, blank or lined.  These pocket-sized journals are perfect for keeping in your pocket (shocker) to make quick lists or register random ideas on the fly.

Dice Set

Dice Set

Roll to see if you have a life…

For the D&D nerds, Magic players, and board game geeks on your list, a set of shiny new dice makes for a very thoughtful and useful gift.  What’s your geek’s favorite color?  Odds are you can find a cool-looking set of dice to match.  Board Game Central has a great selection of 6-sided and d20 dice sets all for under $10.



Energy in a can!

Whether it’s in the form of coffee, chai tea, energy drinks, or soda, most of us geeks require an endless supply of caffeine to help us through our late night coding projects, marathon gaming sessions, and the abysmal work day that follows.  Though cases of the really good stuff like Bawls and Jolt are on the pricey side, for less than $10 you can still give your geek a smaller-serving caffeinated shot in the arm.  How about gifting a sampler of 20 oz. energy drinks, or a trio of coffees or teas?   Also try Pacific Chai, Monster Energy, and there’s always Red Bull.

Comic Books

Comic Books

Mmm…new comic smell!

Comic books have evolved so much over the years, it’s perhaps more appropriate to think of them as readable works of art than the humble colorful distractions they used to be.  As the quality has gone up, so has the price, but you can still walk into any comic shop and pick up some great new issues with that glorious new comic smell for less than $10.  And with so many different titles to choose from, you’re sure to find something for everyone.  Who knows, you might even get your geek hooked on an awesome new series.  There’s also manga for the Japanophile on your list.

Thinker Toys

Thinker Toys

FACT: Playing with toys helps you get work done.

Between writing, brainstorming, troubleshooting, or figuring out why our damn program isn’t working, geeks need some kind of immediate stress reliever/creativity spark by our side.  Give your geek some inexpensive “thinker toys” for his or her desk.  Try some Silly Putty, Play Doh, Koosh balls, or perhaps a “thinky Slinky”?  Or go for the classic Rubik’s Cube (though it may cause more stress than it alleviates).  Anything goes, as long as it’s small, mildly entertaining, and keeps our hands and minds momentarily busy.

Computer Cleaning Products

Computer Cleaning Products

Handy for removing yesterday’s lunch from your keyboard.

Geeks love their computers and gadgets but it can be a neverending battle to keep them clean.  Crumbs in the keyboard, fingerprints on the laptop screen; these are our perpetual annoyances.  Which is why any geek can appreciate a little help to keep our LCD monitors and iPhone touchscreens sparkly clean.  Staples sells a nice little keyboard brush for less than $5 and a mini screen cleaner for under $10.

Hope I’ve given you some good ideas for the geeks on your Christmas shopping list!

6 Geeky Things I’m Thankful For

Thanksgiving is just two days away. Come Thursday I hope to be in a full-fledged turkey and wine-induced coma, surrounded by family and friends, kicking off a blissful four days of gaming, couching, Netflixing, and leftovers. Gearing up for the long weekend has got me thinking about all the geeky things I’m thankful for.

Here’s a look back at 2008 from a grateful geek girl:

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. RowlingI’m thankful for The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the new children’s fairy tale book and Harry Potter companion piece from one of my favorite authors, J. K. Rowling. Since 1997, I along with most of the world have adventured alongside Harry in his seven-year battle against You-Know-Who, and like so many other fans, was depressed when the series came to its heart-wrenching conclusion last summer. Looking forward to the book’s release this December 4th, when I and legions of Potter fans can delve once again into a small piece of the wizarding world.

The Dark Knight

The Dark KnightI’m thankful that The Dark Knight was a pivotal box office phenomenon, and arguably one of the best super hero movies ever made. I’m thankful that Heath Ledger will be remembered for one of the most riveting and brilliant performances ever known to big screen villainy. I’m thankful that this movie has defined the new standard against which all future super hero movies should be judged, and I’m optimistic that Hollywood will start paying attention.

The New Xbox Experience

New Xbox Live Experience with NetflixI’m thankful for the New Xbox Experience, and Microsoft’s partnership with Netflix to bring the “Watch It Now” movie service to the Xbox 360 console free of charge. Netflix subscribers that own an Xbox 360 no longer have to face the inevitable decision to shell out $100 for a Roku Netflix player, yet another peripheral that would clutter up our home entertainment systems. I’ve found the high-quality streaming service to work absolutely perfectly. It’s just too bad about Sony’s sour grapes.

Wii Fit

Wii FitI’m thankful for Nintendo and their seemingly endless innovation when it comes to producing fun and easy to learn yet challenging games for the Wii, most notably 2008’s simple but surprisingly effective title Wii Fit. While Wii Fit certainly doesn’t score any points for breathtaking graphics or intense gameplay, there is something to be said for any game (or non-game) that motivates us lazy gamers to get off the couch and get physical—and have fun doing it.

The Twilight Saga

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie MeyerI’m thankful for Stephenie Meyer’s ridiculously cheesy Twilight Saga, whose sophomoric books managed to completely suck me in for a good two weeks of unadulterated guilty pleasure reading, the perfect antidote to a stressful month . I’m also thankful that the equally cheesy and unintentionally hilarious Twilight movie—which grossed $70 million on its opening weekend, thanks to dreamy Rob Pattinson—made for one of the most entertaining and memorable girls’ night outs I’ve had in a long time.

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich KingI’m thankful for Wrath of the Lich King, the latest and greatest expansion to the second life I know as World of Warcraft, which gave me the excuse to get back in touch with old guildies and good friends (some virtual, some real) and fall in love all over again with the sheer awesomeness of this game. Blizzard has really outdone themselves with this release. The stunning visuals and beautiful music score alone were worth the wait. Indeed, things were getting pretty boring around Azeroth until you showed up, Arthas.

Looking forward to all the geeky things 2009 will bring!