Midtown Comics Book Club: Kraven’s Last Hunt

About a year ago it became my monthly tradition to attend the Midtown Comics book club which is hosted by my good friend Thor Parker.  The comic book club convenes on the last Friday of each month at the Downtown location on Fulton Street in New York City.  It’s a really entertaining gathering of people who enjoy reading comics and each month there’s a special guest (usually the author, artist or editor of that month’s selection).  Thor moderates the discussion and the rest of the group listens attentively as we become privy to the anecdotal behind-the-scenes type stories and experiences that went into the creation of the book.  Did I also mention that there are donuts?  The discussion usually runs for about an hour and afterwards the guest will stick around and sign your book.  If you love reading comics, meeting creators, and collecting signed trades, you should definitely check out the Midtown Comics book club!

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At the end of each club, Thor announces the next month’s selection, and Midtown Comics always offers the book at 25% off the cover price from that night until the night of the next book club.  I was absolutely overjoyed when I found out that  February’s book club would focus on a Spider-Man graphic novel entitled Kraven’s Last Hunt.  And even more exciting, the guest speaker would be Jim Salicrup, who edited the series!  I really enjoyed reading Kraven’s Last Hunt several years ago and I found it to be an even more enjoyable read this time around, especially considering the recent direction that Dan has taken Amazing/Superior Spider-Man in.  (I wrote a post a little while back about Dan’s Amazing Spider-Man run which you can read here.)

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Kraven’s Last Hunt (written by J.M. Dematteis with art by Mike Zeck), is one of the few Spider-Man tales where the reader gets an in depth look into the mindset of the lesser used villain, Kraven the Hunter.  Kraven successfully ‘kills’ Peter Parker and begins parading around New York City in the black Spider-Man suit armed with the demented notion that by imitating Peter and embracing the spider, he will somehow master him, and become a superior Spider-Man (No really, he says that! See page 37!).  Hence, one of the intriguing parallels between Spider-Man now and Spider-Man then.  A fair portion of the story is also devoted to Peter’s new wife, Mary Jane Watson.  Part of Peter’s motivation to overcome the handicap that Kraven has imposed upon him is the prospect of spending more time with MJ.  While I have always and will always be a Gwen Stacy fan, I have to admit that Mary Jane’s vulnerability caused by her fear of losing Peter is quite endearing.  She even considers confiding in Peter’s boss at the Daily Bugle but she thinks better of it because she realizes that she’s been entrusted with Peter’s secret it’s her responsibility to maintain it.  There’s a scene where Mary Jane thinks she has found Peter, but she quickly realizes that it’s not her beloved in the suit after she witnesses the masked Kraven’s overly violent crime fighting techniques.  When Peter returns he is forced to deal with the repercussions caused by the havoc that Kraven has been wreaking.  The ending of Kraven’s tale is shocking, but you’ll just have to pick up the trade if you’re curious about how the story unfolds.

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Jim told us all about how Kraven’s Last Hunt was one of the grittiest and darkest Spider-Man tales ever told, especially at the time of its publication in 1987.  The story was originally shopped as a Batman/Joker story, but was transformed into a Spider-Man tale before it was released.  It was originally titled “Fearful Symmetry,” but the name was changed to Kraven’s Last Hunt in trade.  Jim was one of the first editor’s to attempt to streamline all of the Spider-Man titles under the Marvel umbrella instead of selling each title as an individual story.  This is why Kraven’s Last Hunt collects Web of Spider-Man #31-#32, Amazing Spider-Man #293-#294, and Spectacular Spider-Man #131-#132, yet when read together, the issues form one cohesive story arc.  I always love to hear stories about the inside workings at Marvel, and about the great comic legends who paved the industry for today’s writers and artists so I found Jim to be a particularly interesting speaker.  He touched upon his interactions with Stan Lee, and John Romita Sr., and several other Marvel bigwigs.  We also learned that Jim had originally gone by ‘James,’ until John Romita Sr., had dubbed him ‘Jim.’  While Jim’s time at Marvel has ended, he is still actively contributing to the comics industry.  Jim is currently the editor in chief of Paprercutz which publishes graphic novelizations of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and one of my childhood favorites, Tales From the Crypt.

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Scott Pilgrim Vs. My Closet

After careful consideration I decided to take the weekend off (after the Midtown Comics Book Club and an early morning movie screening), and spend the remainder of Saturday and Sunday at my house being productive and such.  Since my closet/room/life, etc. is in a perpetual state of chaos, it felt like the perfect time to attempt to tackle a portion of the disarray. I had already consumed brunch, dropped my brother off at the train station, and picked up my treinta unsweetened green iced tea from Starbucks, so the only pre-cleaning task that remained was choosing the perfect film to keep me company.  The obvious choice was Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  My love for Scott, Ramona, and co., has never wavered, but ever since the color editions of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beloved series started being released, I’ve found myself re-immersed in all things Scott Pilgrim.  I’ve been saying for ages that I’ve been dreaming of cosplaying Envy Adams, lead singer of The Clash at Demonhead, Scott’s ex-girlfriend, and the current love interest of Ramona’s vegan ex-bf, Todd Ingram.  Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness has always been one of my favorite volumes in the series, mainly because of Envy.  I’m drawn to Envy for many reasons; 1) her 100% percent rating, 2) she’s a fellow blogger (Knives is not-so-surprisingly one of her devoted fans), 3) her voluminous hair and impeccable sense of style, 4) she’s the lead singer in a super famous band that played with The Pixies, and 5) she has great taste in men (obviously).  While I was enjoying the sounds of Sex Bob-omb and cleaning my closet, I realized I already owned the only two items of clothing and few pieces of jewelry needed to cosplay as the movie version of Envy Adams.  And so my Sunday morphed into an impromptu cosplay day while dancing around my room to Metric.

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And just for good measure, I had to pic-stitch at least one photo of me as Envy and Melissa as Ramona<3

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Here are several more of my favorite cosplaying friends.  I can only hope that we’ll all reprise our roles one day for a major Scott Pilgrim photo shoot.  (Ages: Vary, Ratings: AWESOME.)

San DiegoBetty Felon & Alicia Wood as Ramona Flowers & Roxy Richter

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Lauren Moran as Ramona Flowers

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Beautiful Creatures Movie Review

I spent a bunch of time in January and February hemming and hawing over whether I should read Beautiful Creatures before I ventured out to see the film.  Beautiful Creatures is based on the young adult novel of the same name, written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  After careful consideration I decided to see the movie first because I knew that I wanted to write a review of it, and I didn’t want said review to turn into a comparison essay between two pieces which should theoretically be viewed as separate entities.  For what it is, Beautiful Creatures is an entertaining and intriguing film.  Just to preface that statement, I am in no way trying to demean the film by phrasing my overall opinion with the “for what it is,” disclaimer.  I have no shame in admitting that I have quite the soft spot for young adult fiction and films (sans Twilight, ugh, which I won’t even begin to rant about here), but let’s face it, when someone chooses to attend a film in that genre, they’re not expecting to see the next Annie Hall.

It is however, pleasantly surprising to see how well the film conveys the good versus evil theme.  Lena (played by Alice Englert), a castor, has recently relocated to live with her Uncle Macon in Gatlin, Georgia just before her sixteenth birthday when it will be revealed during a ritual whether she will be claimed by the light or the darkness.  There is a constant struggle throughout the story in which Lena flip flops from the light side to the dark side.   Lena is not inherently good or inherently evil, instead she rests somewhere in the morally grey area, which affords her character to be more relatable (especially to us mortals).  As much as humans would love for everything to have a black and white definition of what constitutes good and what should be condemned as evil, it is an unrealistic expectation, and there are always outside circumstances that influence an individual’s decision-making process.

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Another major factor that contributes to Lena’s inability to control her emotions and her powers, is her love of Ethan Wate (played by Alden Ehrenreich).  Ethan has lived in the small sheltered town of Gatlin for his entire life but he has been itching to get out, that is, until Lena shows up.  (Side note: One of the best lines in the film is when Ethan’s bitterly overbearing ex-girlfriend tells him that she prays he doesn’t go straight to hell.  Ethan’s response is “Oh I won’t go straight to hell.  I’m going to stop in New York first.”)  But alas, the exposition between the pairs love affair is slightly lacking and the viewer is expected to accept the concept of destiny in order to understand how their relationship develops so quickly.

The standout performances in the film are by Jeremy Irons, who plays Uncle Macon, Emmy Rossum, Lena’s cousin Ridley that was claimed by the darkness upon her sixteenth birthday, and Emma Thompson, Macon’s sister and Lena’s mother who is another dark castor.

The scenery is delightful to view, and there were several shots, and costume choices that seemed to be inspired by The Craft.  Between the woods, Macon’s luxuriously modern and out of place mansion, and the secret castor library protected by the Seer Amma (Viola Davis), the film has its fair share of pleasurable aesthetics. The ending of the film doesn’t tie everything together which is to be expected since Beautiful Creatures is the first in a series of four books. It was obvious that the filmmakers tried to cram as much information into the first movie as possible (the book is over 400 pages!), but it still seemed as if some pertinent information was missing in areas.  This helped affirm my confidence in the decision to read the book post movie because I am now curious to see which parts were cut out, if perhaps the connection between Lena and Ethan is built with a stronger foundation, and what exactly was altered to adapt the book to a film friendly screenplay.  If you’re looking for a film that’s a little bit heavier than the typical light entertainment supplied by a supernatural rom-com, but will still satisfy your desire for a guilty pleasure, you should definitely consider seeing Beautiful Creatures.

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The Big Zombie Tour By Atlanta Movie Tours

Since The Walking Dead is finally back, I decided that it would be an appropriate time to recap one of my favorite Walking Dead related events I have ever attended.  Last Labor Day weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Atlanta for Dragon*Con with my lovely On Wednesdays We Wear Pink co-creator, Kristin, and her husband Patrick. In addition to our con-going we were also invited to attend “The Big Zombie Tour,” a tour created by Atlanta Movie Tours, which turned out to be my favorite part of our entire trip. Anyone who has visited our site knows that we are both huge zombie fans, and more particularly, Walking Dead fans. This bus tour takes you throughout Atlanta and brings you to all of the places where memorable scenes from The Walking Dead were filmed.  Atlanta is such a beautiful city, mixed with both urban and suburban areas which made for an unique and gorgeous experience.  Throughout the tour, there are trivia questions being asked with prizes for correct answers, photo-ops in all of the locations you visit, and anecdotes from The Walking Dead set. “The Big Zombie Tour” was hosted by a fellow named Charlie who played a zombie on the show with a featured kill, and an awesome tour operator named Patty. Charlie is the zombie in the beginning of season two that Daryl shoots in the eye with an arrow and guts in order to determine if he had eaten the missing Sophia.  It was evident that both Patty and Charlie love what they’re doing, and their enthusiasm and knowledge of The Walking Dead truly enhanced the tour.  Other Kristin also wrote an in-depth article about the specific places we visited which you can read about here.  If you’re interested in attending The Big Zombie Tour, you can book your trip on Atlanta Movie Tours website.  Trust me, if you love zombies, this is a tour that you cannot miss!  Below are some of my favorite photos we took during our trip!

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Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars

Since New York Fashion Week is upon us, I thought it would be fun to write a flashback post of one of my fondest memories in fashion.  But more specifically, in Star Wars fashion.  Not many people can say that attending a fashion show resulted in meeting and shaking hands with George Lucas, and Hayden Christensen, but strangely enough, I can!  I attended college at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) on 28th street and 7th Avenue (or Fashion Avenue), in New York City and it just so happened that the year I began my continued education was the same year that the Ziegfeld Theater hosted a little event called “Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars.”

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I’ll never forget walking into the student life office during orientation and asking if there were any available volunteer positions for the upcoming Fashion Week.  It had been close to the week’s commencement and I wasn’t positive there would be anything left, but I figured it was worth a shot.  When she looked through the list and then back at me, her response was “Hmm, it seems like all we have left is this Star Wars thing.”  STAR WARS THING?! Little did that employee know that she had said the magic words.  My heart was racing, my brain was working overdrive, and my imagination began to run wild as my two loves of geekdom and fashion were colliding right before my very eyes.  At the time I accepted I had no idea what the show was about nor that I would be meeting and conversing with anyone related to the film franchise.

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My job was very simple and I would gladly do it again in a heartbeat.  Before the show began, me and several other girls acted as ushers and pointed people in the direction of their assigned seat.  It was really a quite simple task requiring almost zero effort, which is not always the case with many fashion shows.  Once the doors were shut, and the audience was comfortably seated, we were able to stay and watch the entirety of show (might I add, in prime seating!) as a thank you for our hard work.

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The show was held to celebrate the stellar costumes that Trisha Biggar designed for all six of the Star Wars films.  As soon as the lights in the theater were dimmed, and the stage was lit, John Williams’ brilliant Star Wars score (which I am listening to as I write this very blog post), began emanating  from the speakers and immediately, I was a little kid again, seeing Star Wars for the first time in the theater my father took my brother and I to.  There were large screens positioned behind the models onstage which played clips from the movies

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Held by Lucasfilm and the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) the show celebrated all things Star Wars, and kicked off the “Dressing a Galaxy” exhibit that FIDM later housed in their school’s museum in LA.  The show featured 35 Star Wars costumes in total and each design was more breathtaking than the last.  I never would have imagined that I would be so close to all of the inspiring and intricate costumes from my favorite franchise.  My favorite was Padme’s red voluminous red dress which the model wore with her signature white face makeup and thin red lipstick line.

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Thursday September 15, 2005, is a day that will go down in history as the day I met George Lucas.  I hung around a little while after the show ended in the hopes of speaking with him, and I was lucky enough to do just that!  I was so nervous because he was one of the first really famous people I had ever met that I truly respected.  Fortunately, George Lucas was wonderfully charming in person.  I may have fangirled out a bit about my love of Star Wars, but Lucas took it like a champ and was very gracious and friendly throughout our entire interaction. I  also snagged a photo with a very dreamy Hayden Christensen whom I was totally in love with at the time (what college girl wasn’t?!).  I’m pretty sure I only asked him for a photo but didn’t make too much small talk because I was still rather speechless from meeting George Lucas. Keep in mind that this was before I owned a digital camera so I apologize for the awful picture-of-a-picture quality!

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Anyway, between “Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars,” and modeling for Her Universe at Star Wars Celebration IV, I feel extremely lucky to have been so involved in the fashion aspect of one of my all time favorite movie franchises.   What are some of your favorite experiences?  I’d love to hear about them!

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Warm Bodies Movie Review

This may sound like an awful pun, but I had been *dying* to see Warm Bodies since I first saw the theatrical trailer debut during an episode of The Walking Dead a few months back.  Many people had been making fun of the idea of a zombie love story and I had heard many remarks about this film being a “zombie Twilight.”  Regardless of the comparisons, I knew that I had to see it.  In fact, I became so obsessed with it, that I convinced myself I loved it before I even had a chance to see it.  Usually this kind of behavior doesn’t bode well for films because you end up having such high expectations, that the actual movie itself can only be a disappointment.  Fortunately, this was not the case with Warm Bodies.

Here goes a sentence I never imagined I would say in my entire lifetime:  R is one hot zombie.  Played by Nicholas Hoult, our main lovestruck member of the undead, goes by the name R (since he is unable to remember his real name), and he is a self aware zombie who seeks more out of, er… consciousness.  He saves a beautiful human girl Julie (played by Teresa Palmer), from being eaten by his hoard of zombie friends by masking her in zombie blood so they would be unable to smell their potential meal, but only after first eating her boyfriend.  Warm Bodies used one of my favorite zombie-isms, a factor which I first read about in Chris Roberson’s iZombie, in which a zombie is subjected to all of the memories of the human they’re devouring once they eat said human’s brains.  The film, adapted from the young adult novel of the same name, written by Isaac Marion, puts a modern post-apocalyptic day spin on Romeo and Juliet (I mean, the main characters names are R and Julie, it doesn’t get more obvious than that).  I mean think about it, a zombie and a human, it is the ultimate in forbidden romances.  Besides the obvious theme of young love, the film also managed to be an inspiring piece about craving more from life, and doing whatever is necessary to achieve it.  R is one ambitious zombie.  He convinces Julie that it would be unsafe for her to leave his zombie confine for a few days because his zombie neighbors and friends would notice, allowing himself just enough time for his endearing groans and choppy sentences to charm Julie into loving him.  As if the life barrier wasn’t enough, R’s next conflict is winning over Julie’s less than reasonable father.  But that’s a whole other story.  Another notable character is R’s best zombie friend M, played by Rob Corddry.  M and R share a the most adorable zombie bromance.

As I may have mentioned earlier on Twitter, a major reason this film works so well is because it is so self aware.  From noting ironic music choices, to R commentating on his hopes of not coming off as a creep because of his zombie stare,  to an almost romantic scene in which R relays to Julie that, yes he must in fact eat people in order to survive.  The film did a fantastic job of humanizing zombies which is something you don’t see in many zombie flicks despite the fact that zombies are just dead humans.  Instead, the film’s characters demonize a different breed of zombies, called Bonies.  Bonies are zombies who have completely given up.  R describes them as eating anything with a heartbeat and not feeling bad about it.  With their disgusting skeletal frame and lack of skin, the Bonies also gain the ability to run at some serious speed and focus on their potential targets.

Overall, I loved Warm Bodies so much, that I decided to pick up a copy of the book which is currently sitting on my bedside table just begging to be read (okay fine, I picked up the book a few days before I saw the movie because I was anticipating loving it so much, but it all worked out in the end!).  If you’re interested in zombie films, star crossed lovers, young adult fiction, or simply entertaining self aware comedies in general, you should definitely check out Warm Bodies while it’s still in theaters.  I cannot praise this film enough.

*Side Note: One of my instagram followers pointed out that Nicholas Hoult who plays R, also played Tony in the British television show Skins, and now I can finally stop wondering why I felt like I already knew and loved him before this role.  Evidently, he also played the child in the move adaptation of Nick Hornby’s About a Boy.  And Beast in X-Men: First Class!

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My 2013 Convention Schedule

Each year I find that I have every intention of finalizing my convention schedule in January at the height of the New Year, but for some reason I am never capable of ironing out all of the details by then.  I get a lot of requests on Twitter asking which cons, signings, events, etc., I’ll be attending, so I decided to compile one comprehensive list for everyone’s reference!  I am so excited to announce that I will be fulfilling one of my New Years Resolutions for 2013 by attending C2E2 in Chicago later this year!  So anyway, without further adieu, here is my schedule!

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February

10th – 13th – New York Toy Fair

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April

6th-7th – MoCCA Fest

13th – New York Comic Book Market

26th – 28th – C2E2

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June

4th – 6th – Book Expo America (cancelled due to filming)

11th – 13th  – E3 2013

July

17th – 21st – San Diego Comic Con

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September

7th – 8th – Baltimore Comic Con

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October

10th – 13th – New York Comic Con

November

1st – 3rd – Comikaze

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The Elements of a Perfect Saturday

It’s very rare that anyone wakes up in the morning and finds that everything is going their way, which is why I often try to do certain things to ensure that my day will be an enjoyable one.  Admittedly, I had a very rough week which is why I decided that I would try to rid myself of stress and fill my Saturday with activities that were sure to make me happy.  I started my day by waking up, showering, grabbing a treinta unsweetened green iced tea from Starbucks, and hopping on the next train to Manhattan about an hour and a half earlier than I had to.  I opted for iced tea despite the 19 degree weather my iPhone app warned me about because it’s my signature drink  and it’s one of the small things in life that I find truly delightful.  Adorned with my favorite pink scarf, I set out on my train ride and instead of reading as I usually do, I decided to listen to Tegan and Sara’s new album (and my current musical obsession) “Heartthrob.”  In fact, I tried to listen to it as I began writing this blog post, but alas, I spent more time singing than writing so I was forced to turn it off.  One of the reasons I am so drawn to this album, even more so than their previous ones, is because of the overall tone.  It’s very upbeat and each time I hear it all I want to do is sing at the top of my lungs and dance around.  Upon my first listen I fell deeply in love with it.  You can easily hear the inspiration they drew from the songs and sounds of the 80’s.  I really hope they tour in New York this year!  The reason I chose to arrive so much earlier than necessary is because one of my favorite things has always been to walk around New York City and clear my mind while enjoying a view of buildings.  Especially in the morning. Many folks believe that New York at night is the most beautiful sight, with all of it’s bright lights illuminating the skyline, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, on clear sunny days in the early morning, before the streets are overrun with people and you can clearly see all of the detailed architecture, New York is at it’s best.  One of my favorite authors Goethe, once described architecture as frozen music, and I have yet to find a better way to explain my love of each and every New York building I pass on morning walks.

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Along my walk I stopped at a few stores, mostly out of necessity, to warm up my hands because unfortunately I have a mental block against brining gloves with me when I leave my house.  I was meeting my friend Jamila for brunch on the Lower East Side where we were planning on discussing our blogs, sharing secrets, and strategizing for the futures of our sites.  We had such a wonderful brunch at an adorable little restaurant called El Camion.  I have to mention Jamilia’s fabulous outfit because it just the cutest!  She was wearing an Empire Strikes Back sweater, and Legend of Zelda red rupee earrings.  I think part of the reason we became fast friends is because we are both very passionate about incorporating geeky fashion elements into our wardrobes.  We bonded over our mutual love of Studio Ghibli, Scott Snyder’s Batman, our compulsive Etsy shopping habits, and of course Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga.  After brunch, we visited Toy Tokyo, where we were both barely able to resist all the fun toys they have to offer.  One day, I am determined to purchase the Harley Quinn NYCC exclusive Pullip doll, but for now, I’m saving every last penny so I can move sometime before my birthday in July!  But in the meantime, she’s fun to visit.  We continued our after brunch shopping by hitting up St. Mark’s Comics, GameStop (I helped confirm Jamila’s need to buy Ni No Kuni for PS3 and I myself picked up the Adventure Time game for Nintendo DS that I had been lusting after), Barnes & Noble, and Sephora to see their new Oz the Great and Powerful eyeshadow palettes from Urban Decay. Overall, we had an amazing time eating, shopping, and geeking out together.  I can’t wait to see her again!

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As soon as we parted ways, one of my best friends Giovanni, texted me because he was in the city to see all of the Oscar nominated shorts which were playing at the IFC Center.  I walked over from Union Square and met him just before the show was beginning because I too was anxious to see all of the nominees short films before the Oscars premiere.  I had only previously seen two of the shorts (“Paperman” and “Fresh Guacamole”) which remained being my two favorites after viewing them all.  I was so excited when the show started and we realized that it was hosted by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg.  They are the two directors who created one of my favorite animated shorts ever (“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore“), and last years Oscar winners in the same category.  They showed a bit of animation from their short, and discussed the importance of having an idea, following through with that idea no matter how long it might take, and their personal emotions and reactions upon winning Oscars.  The Oscar nominated shorts we saw were “Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare,'” “Adam and the Dog,” “Head Over Heels,” “Fresh Guacamole,” and “Paperman.”  The only short I didn’t care for was “Head Over Heels.”  Because the total time for all the films is rather short, they also screened some of the other notable films that were considered for being nominated.  I particularly loved the short entitled “Dripped,” which was an homage to Jackson Pollack through an animated art thief at large in New York City.  There was also a really beautiful sci-fi short called “Abiogenesis,” and a short featuring the voices of James Corden and Helena Bonham Carter based on a children’s book, called “The Gruffalo.”  Even after seeing all of the nominees, I’m still rooting for Paperman.  I was so inspired by the short after seeing it that I even made my own paper airplane marked with a red lipstick kiss.

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After our movie, it was back to Brooklyn where we watched a few other animated shorts by Pes (the creators of “Fresh Guacamole”) before meeting my best friend Melissa, her friend Mandy who was visiting for LA, and two more of their friends for some scrumptious dumplings.  Ever since I became a vegetarian, I have felt that there was a dim sum void in my life, but it was properly filled last night.  I indulged in vegetable shu mai, (which I didn’t even know existed!), vegetable dumplings, and scallion pancakes.  It was a delicious meal and I am definitely planning on frequenting M Shanghai’s for more Asian cuisine in the very near future.  On my way home, I ran into minor delays due to a track fire near 34th street, but even that could not put a damper on my day.  I picked up some more Starbucks, progress a little further in the current book I’m reading, and texted with my friend Chris, the talented guy behind my beautiful new blog design, while waiting for the next train.  I arrived home to find that my town was covered in a layer of snow, and my dad had been kind enough to go to the train station and clean off my car so I didn’t have to spend anymore time in the cold.  He’s seriously the best dad ever.  When we got back to the house my mom, dad, brother and I decided to have a quick glass of wine and sit in our living room recounting our days to one another.  It was the perfect ending to my pleasant and relaxing day!  Although I am uber sore today from the countless miles of city blocks I covered yesterday, I wouldn’t change a single thing about my day.  I hope everyone else is making sure to take time to do things that make them happy.  Sometimes I forget that I need to, but it’s days like yesterday that serve as a reminder to me that despite our busy schedules, it is really important to set aside time to do the things you find enjoyable.  Life is too short not to spend being happy!

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Ni No Kuni Video Game Review

When I heard that Ni No Kuni, a new video game with animation by Studio Ghibli, was being released, I knew I had to pick up my copy on the day it came out.  And considering that so far, the game is only for PS3 (my game system of choice), I seemed destined to own this game.  (If you haven’t already, you can pick up a copy on Amazon). The game itself is more like a movie than a game, but in the best way possible.  It tells the story of the cutest little animated boy ever, Oliver, whose mom passes away just after saving his life.  Shortly after his mom passes, Oliver’s tears break a curse that was placed on his toy, Drippy.  Drippy, who turns out to be a fairy with a fun accent from the parallel reality of Ni No Kuni, comes to life and gifts him with a book all about the wonders, rules, and techniques of magic.  Since the parallel reality is a sort of alternate version of Oliver’s current reality, he (reluctantly at first), decides to venture to Ni No Kuni, help Drippy free his world from the White Witch, and save his alternate mother.  Below are some brief character bios from a site that my friend Dan (@Darkflight) was kind enough to send to me before I purchased my game!

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The site also includes a link to all of the games trailers, but the one below is my favorite.  The other trailer is a bit on the sadder side, and while that part really did get me in the beginning (don’t judge me for crying OKAY?!), the game overall is much more upbeat and fun!

Obviously notable is the Studio Ghibli animation.  The game is gorgeous and movie-like and overall the scenery and characters are very enchanting.  Adding to whimsy is the serene soundtrack performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus.  I particularly enjoy reading The Wizard’s Companion that Drippy gives you immediately prior to the commencement of your quest.  The companion is full of magical guides, information, how-to’s, and a language decoder.  If you take the time to decode the language throughout the game you will find a bunch of easter eggs hidden within.

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Kotaku put together a very helpful post with tips about Ni No Kuni before you delve into the game.  So far, the most helpful that I’ve found are to 1) use L2 and R2 in combat, 2) don’t get too attached to your starters, 3) do side quests, and my own personal addition to their list would be to utilize the map in the top right corner if you’re unsure where you’re going.

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One thing I haven’t yet done, but I think I may once I complete the game for the first time, is to play it again but set the language to Japanese.  Studio Ghibli films are meant to viewed in Japanese with subtitles, but for my first time around I wanted to focus on all of the images without having to worry about reading subtitles. Overall, I’d say that picking this game up was a win-win situation.  If you’re on the fence about buying a copy, I would encourage to you to take the plunge because it is well worth the money.  In case I’ve convinced you that you need this game, the link to Amazon is below :o) I can definitely see myself coming back to this game after I’ve completed it, the same way I am drawn back to certain movies.  The story is heartfelt and resonates in a way that only Studio Ghibli films can.

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