Friday I’m In Love

Video Games Are Awesome by Liz Climo

Video Games Are Awesome by Liz Climo available at Society 6

Hey y’all

Hope you’re having a good Black Friday. Although we Canadians do our Thanksgiving celebrating a month early, the weird holiday sales cultures has penetrated out here, which is why I am at home, cuddled in a blanket with my cats. Nothing against anyone who’s into it, it just isn’t my bag.

Been a bit of a weird week. Got some good news, then some pretty bad news, now we’re waiting on confirmation of the good news, but we probably won’t know anything until Monday. Which means this weekend is just a big long waiting game. Which is fine because it’ll allow me to do a little catch up before next week when ALL OF THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING! Or at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself whenever I start to get antsy. Ugh.

On the good news side of things, Game and Gab for Good, my livestreaming charity event benefiting Love 146 is steamrolling along. Check out the linked post, or the event page for more details. And thank you so much to everyone who has already donated or committed to joining us! We can’t do this without you.

Link Time!
I know we shouldn’t be surprised that a Barbie book is filled with sexist ideas about women and technology, but c’mon!

Would you take a University course where Skyrim was required reading? I think the only acceptable answers are “Hell,” and “yes.”

Rick and I have a soft spot for David Attenborough style nature documentaries. This cracked us the hell up.

Is Twine leading the democratization of video games?

Are video games powerful enough to show us the 4th dimension? One man’s spent 5 years on it.

Animals + technology = <3

For those of you with a tryptophan hangover, here’s a few games you can play with one hand and a mouse.

Are men and women’s brains really fundamentally different?

My life, in a nutshell.

And finally, using new technology to preserve an ancient culture before it is gone.

Our Salem Adventure

In the midst of my ‘super crappy October,’ Rick and I realized that it had been far too long since we’d actually given ourselves a real vacation. Together. So we decided it was time to plan a little roadtrip. I’m not really sure why, but I suggested Salem, MA. It’s only a 5 hour drive from Montreal, has enormous historical significance, and it’s also home to lots of cheesiness thanks to their witch hunting past. Also, New England seafood.

Salem New Hampshire Liquor Store Our first stop on the way down was the New Hampshire Liquor store and Visitor’s Center. No, I am not making that up. I guess because NH has no sales tax and no alcohol tax, they’ve become the place New Englanders buy their hooch. We stopped in mostly to gawk, because seriously, the scale of the place is bonkers. And there’s two of them, on opposite sides of the highway. Just sheer nuttiness.

Because the place was so gigantic, in addition to ludicrously cheap prices, they also had all sorts of alcoholic bevies I had never seen before, including an entire shelf of legal moonshines. Tempted by the sheer novelty of this, we got a small jar of Apple Pie Moonshine to try in our hotel room. It was so amazing, we stopped on our way back to get two more jars to smuggle home. Seriously, that stuff is a revelation.

Salem Salem Inn We stayed at The Salem Inn, a rather large hotel spread across three different heritage buildings right in the center of historical Salem. Since we were only there for the weekend and we were feeling indulgent we got the honeymoon suite, with 2 (!) fireplaces, a mini-couch, king size memory foam bed and a Jacuzzi tub. Totally worth every extra penny. Falling asleep to the sound of a crackling fire (well, safety log, but whatever) is something I would happily pay for at every hotel I stay at from now on.

Salem Lobster Shanty Exterior We decided that our first meal in Massachusetts needed to include lobster, so we wandered down to The Lobster Shanty, since it seemed to have the right mix of dodgy and delicious. We could not have been more right. Turns out they’d actually been featured on Dinners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which was exactly the sort of thing we were craving.

Salem Lobster Roll Lobster Shanty Rick got the classic lobster roll and I got the Connecticut style, which is just lobster in warm butter in a bun. Holy sweet crustacean. I’m not sure I can do it justice with words, other than it was exactly as good as I thought it would be. The sweet potato fries were pretty delish too.

Salem Turner House Ectoplasm After dinner we decided to do an evening ghost tour of historic Salem. To say we were spoiled for choice would have been an understatement, but we decided to avoid anything too cheesetastic and went for a more “authentic” experience lead by an actual paranormal investigator. This may not have been the best choice as Rick and I are skeptics at the best of times, judgie snarks at the worst, and no one was having any of our good-natured banter. That said, one of the pictures I took of the notoriously haunted Lyceum did appear to show some ectoplasm when we looked at it the following morning, so maybe the joke was on us?

Salem Gulu-Gulu Cafe The next day started with brunch at the charming Gulu-Gulu Cafe, which also has an exhaustive list of microbrews. I had the sweetest latte of my entire life and couldn’t even finish my waffle, which I know would be very disappointing to Leslie Knope.

Salem Bewitched Samantha Statue Next we decided to walk around Salem and see the sites in the light of day. I did a little shopping in some witchcraft supply stores (street is lousy with them) and even had a tarot reading done. Apparently this Bewitched statue is on loan from TV Land and the only people who seem to like it are tourists.

Salem Fallout Shelter Sign Saw a bunch of these around town. Funny the things you take for granted living in Canada, although I’m sure we must have one or two of them around somewhere.

Salem Friendship After brunch we wandered down towards the waterfront and walked out on what had once been Salem harbour. It was cool, but not too windy and the fresh sea air was so clean and refreshing.

Salem Lighthouse Rick I even got Rick to pose for his “band photo.”

Salem Harbour Custom House I love all the red brick in colonial architecture. Also, golden eagle statues are enough of a novelty to us Canadians that I had to snap a pic.

Salem Home for Aged Women Although there’s still a lot of work to do, it’s nice to appreciate how much better we have things than our ancestors.

Salem Pirate Museum Rick While we didn’t actually go into the Salem Pirate Museum where this picture was taken, we did indulge our kitchy tourist trap yen by going to Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. I’m so sad they didn’t let us take pictures inside. It was actually really great. Basically a wax museum of cinema monsters, it was exactly what was advertised, only $8 and worth every penny for a monster kid like me. I also got to show off my horror movie knowledge like a mo-fo. I only wish we’d come when there was a celebrity guest in attendance, but it was mega cool in any event.

Salem Sophia Hawthorne House Plaque Always read the plaque.

Salem Cemetary One of our last stops was the cemetery in the center of town. It was small and crowded, but full of history. In fact, it’s probably one of the oldest cemeteries in North America. There are even people who came over on the Mayflower buried there.

Salem Cemetary Susana Gravestone I wish I’d brought a copy of this with us to explore the cemetery. Most of the stones were very crudely engraved, but there were more than a few with decorations like this. I was surprised at how thin the grave markers were. I’d actually thought the first batch I saw were leftover Halloween decorations!

Salem Cemetary Sunken Stone It was a short trip, but a much needed one, and although Salem itself is pretty small, it was just right for this type of trip.

Nerdy Brooch Round Up

I don’t know if it’s just that I’m getting up there in years, but lately I’ve developed a thing for brooches. You know, those big gaudy things your grandma wears? The most ostentatious of costume jewelry? Big clunky pins that catch on your hair and weigh down your sweaters?

Yeah, those.

I think this has largely with my recent propensity for wearing blazers, since brooches and pins allow me to dress them up and add quirky personality to what can be a pretty square piece of clothing. And obviously most of my brooches are on the nerdy side. I’ve only got a couple that I’ve been rotating on the regular, but I’m desperate to add to my collection. So, for fun, I decided to do a little round up of other nerdy brooches I’ve been coveting lately.

Nerdy Brooches

Featured: 1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Laser Cut Acrylic Brooch by designosaurYEAH | 2. Hand Embroidered Darth Vader Patch by homeworkparty | 3. NES Cartridge Brooch by Rapscallion Design | 4. Game of Thrones Fire & Blood Brooch by Kate Rowland | 5. Blogger Badge of Honor by Stoic And Pariah

What’s your favourite type of outdated jewlery?

Introducing Game and Gab for Good

Game and Gab for Good |

Quite some time ago, while in-line at EB Games waiting to pick up Rick’s copy of AAA Blockbuster III: The Sequel, I started thinking about the problem of representation in mainstream video games. We all know about the problems a lack of diverse representation in media can cause (hell, I’ve since spoken on a panel tackling exactly this issue). And beyond that is the issue of what games are marketed to who, as my eyes wandered to the shelves of pink DS games about makeovers and farm romance. And then I started thinking about the effects of sexism around the world and wondered if there was a way I could address issues of sexism in video games here, while also helping the often neglected victims of sexism in less developed parts of the world.

And then I forgot about it.

Flash forward to a month ago, when I managed to reconnect with Dames Who Make Games interviewee Esther H. It turned out that Esther had just started working a with a new company called Game N Give. Game N Give hosts a platform for anyone to run video game charity events. Any game. Any charity. They’ll even help you set up the event.

It also so happened that Esther had also been thinking of how she could use the platform to run events that tackled progressive issues in video games, while putting the money where her proverbial mouth was. And we knew then and there that we were kindered spirits.

Which is how Game and Gab for Good was born.

Our first event is set for December 4, 2014. Esther, Me and Sam Abbot from Compulsion Games, plus others, will be getting together to play Contrast and talk about women in games. How women are represented in games, whether games starring women are harder to market, the challenges of designing and writing female game characters, etc. The whole thing will be streamed live on Twitch from the event page and everyone watching the stream is invited to join in the discussion online. The goal of the event is to raise funds for Love 146, an organization dedicated to eliminating child trafficking and exploitation.

The concept behind Game and Gab for Good is basically to mash up a live stream and a panel discussion to use games as a vehicle for change. As well, since Game N Give is launching their service, all donors and participants will be entered into a raffle for awesome prizes like $100 in Steam credits or even an Xbox One.

Join us, won’t you?