Mary P. Traverse

Mary P. Traverse is an artist, designer, loudmouth and nerd.

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PAX Prime 2015, Day Three

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We’ve made it through Day 3! Here’s some of what caught our eyes today:

  • Lego Dimensions
    The LEGO Toypad, left, and the lengthy list of Doctors, right.
    The LEGO Toypad, left, and the lengthy list of Doctors, right.

    We got to spend some quality time with SkyLEGOs LEGO Infinity LEGO’s entry into the buy-a-bunch-of-things-to-put-on-a-thing console genre. The gameplay should be instantly recognizable to any LEGO console fan, and the execution is world-class. E.g., if you’re playing as the Doctor, you can pick literally any Doctor (see above) and any Tardis–and the First Doctor’s Tardis is even in black and white. Smart, like much LEGO console humor. But all that’s beside the point: If you’re a fan of LEGO’s console games and one or more of the IPs involved, it’s going to be impossible to resist the mashups made possible by Lego Dimensions–like who wouldn’t want to watch Batman save Gandalf from falling at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm so that they can go fight Daleks together? And that’s without even getting into Portal, The Simpsons, Jurassic World, et al. This game genre seemingly can’t last forever, but it will for at least one more title.

  • Minecraft: Story Mode

    We were lucky enough to get in quickly on the Minecraft: Story Mode demo this morning, which has turned out to be the longest line at PAX,with a 2+ hour wait–and that’s if you’re lucky enough to catch the line at all when it isn’t capped! You’ll have to measure your own personal Minecraft mania to judge whether it’s worth it (we had a couple of kids with us, so our visit was mandatory), but the demo is pretty great, and definitely as polished as Telltale’s previous PAX outings with The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands.
    The demo stitches together a couple scenes from the final game, involving finding a pig named Reuben and navigating a crisis at “Endercon,” and the gameplay is a nice mix of classic Telltale dialog choices (what kind of person are you? where are your loyalties?) and some light action and circumscribed exploration in a convincingly Minecraft environment. (And, but of course, there’s even some crafting.) As a bonus, if you played the demo as a male character and were like, “Hey, am I Patton Oswalt?” you were right!
  • Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

    This peppy little indie game made the PAX 10 two years ago (and it’s the second beneficiary of The Behemoth’s Gold Egg Project), but somehow it’s escaped us every year. This PAX, we finally logged some time piloting our lovers (two little space bunnies, in this case) and wow, is it fun. A two-person couch co-op game at heart (although you can play solo with an AI), Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime has you and a pal sharing the controls of a slowly floating spacecraft bristling with weapons and gadgetry. You’re being attacked from all sides as you navigate large, obstacle-strewn levels, but the trick is that your bunnies are running around your small craft between all the individual control panels. So, for example, one player might be steering the ship while the other is firing one of the turrets, and you have to constantly swap around as the threats outside keep changing. The game also keeps switching things up, with six ship layouts and four campaigns–each with four randomly generated levels and a boss battle. The best news of all: it is a glorious spacetime for Xbox One owners, with the game arriving there (and on Steam, for Mac and PC) on September 9.
  • Mushroom 11

    Trying to describe the gameplay of Mushroom 11 is difficult: you’re pushing a mass of self-replicating slime through a maze of different obstacles by erasing carefully selected parts of it to force further replication… you can see why this might be hard. But the conceit is so novel and the play is so uncannily satisfying that it’s a game like no other–definitely a must-play if you’re touring the Indie Megabooth. The original concept came from a wife-and-husband team (Julia Keren-Detar and Itay Keren) at Global Game Jam 2012, and this was their take on the jam’s Ouroboros theme. The initial idea came quickly (coded in just 10 hours), but the pair teamed up with another couple (artist Simon Kono and producer Kara Kono) and spent a year and half getting the feel, physics, and camera angle just right. The effort shows. Get it on Steam now, or watch for it next year on iOS and Android when everyone will be talking about it. It’s going to be an amazing fit for touch controls.
  • enfu
    Detail from the cover of enfu's book, Cute Grit.
    Detail from the cover of enfu’s book, Cute Grit.

    We’re always stoked to see Seattle artist enfu at events, and this year he’s signing copies of his book, Cute Grit, and other swag at the Penny Arcade merch booth. He’ll be back again tomorrow, Monday, from noon–2 pm. Ask him about his new pin project!

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PAX Party Planning: Nerdhole at Raygun Lounge and More!!

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geekouttriviaPAX GEEK OUT TRIVIA
Thursday August 27 / 8:00 pm / Raygun Lounge / Free!
featuring special guests from A Podcast for All Intents and Purposes and us, Nerdhole!

Come kick off your PAX weekend with Nerdhole! We’ll be at Raygun Lounge’s weekly Geek Out Trivia night, hosted by MC Andrew. All three of us will be in attendance, and we’ve got some sweet swag to give out as prizes! Look forward to seeing you there!

rule

And here’s some other ways to spend your non-con hours, even if you didn’t score a PAX pass:

ALL WEEKEND:

THURSDAY:

FRIDAY:

  • Nerd Concert at LoFi “We have chiptunes, we have rock, we have hip hop, we have cheap booze, we have give-aways, and a few arcade machines just for good measure.”
  • Give Me a Quest at Raygun Lounge Play arcade and board games with the staff of Bitch Team Alpha and Can’t Talk Media! Cover is $1 and all proceeds benefit Take This Project, party is 18+ only. No PAX badge required.”
  • Insert Coin: Mortal Kompax!! at The Eagle Brought to you by Queer Geek! Seattle, this event has EVERYthing: music, cosplay, booze, dancing, and Mortal Kombat!
  • All Your Dance Are Belong To Us A video game-themed dance party with DJ Morgue Anne. Chiptunes, Nerdcore, Geekstep, and beyond in a night combining a love for video game culture and dance music. Costumes are encouraged and prizes will be given out to the best dressed.

SATURDAY:

  • Super League Gaming PAX Red Carpet Meet & Greet Gameplay Event Play Minecraft while you watch it on a movie screen! Meet Captain Sparklez, Parker Games, and other YouTubers on the red carpet and in the theater!
  • Pink Party Prime 7 featuring voice actor Troy Baker Queer Geek’s Pink Party Prime 7 will feature actor and voice-over artist Troy Baker, a VIP lounge, and the Official Pink Party $1,000 Cosplay Contest. With DJs Krot and Futurewife and gogos Bolt and Tyler Rush. Proceeds from Pink Party Prime 7 will benefit Gay City Health Project.
  • Ms. Pak-Man: Bonus Stage! Watch this world-renowned video game superstar of the 1980s try and stage her big comeback (again) after years of popping too many power pills. A cabaret-style theatre experience starring Scott Shoemaker (Ian Bell’s Brown Derby Series, Homo for the Holidays) as the loveable trainwreck Ms. Pak-Man.
  • NerdSquatch GameBoy Music Festival “5 different GameBoy artists – Trey Frey, GRAZ, RTR0 DR34M, 8-Bit Zero, and bryface plus a bard from hyrule, and visuals and lazerz by Lightlinked”

SUNDAY:

  • That Other Party More excellent music for your weekend: nerdcore, chiptune, electro jazz, and more.
  • PAX Prime Karaoke Time 2015 with Mike & Tifa “Want to hang out with awesome people in the gaming industry and sing your favorite nerdy songs? Mike & Tifa have partnered with The Mercury* and Baby Ketten Karaoke for an amazing night of nerd karaoke!”
  • Starr Mazer Concert Join the Starr Mazer crew in a concert featuring a bunch of different musicians at Chop Suey. No PAX Prime badge needed.
  • Poropalooza 2 A giant PAX after party at Q nightclub featuring a party bus available from the front of the convention center to the club. Free for cosplayers.

MONDAY:

 

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ListHole: 8 Songs That Could Be About Vampires (And 2 That Definitely Are)

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still of kiefer sutherland brooke mccarter alex winter and billy wirth in the lost boys
The Lost Boys is approximately 50-60% of why I became goth. Mary Shelley shares significant blame as well.
You may have heard that I love all shitty vampire things. Because of this I tend to hear vampiric themes where none were intended, and this happened even more frequently back when I was a young goth. In the mid-’90s I briefly played Vampire: The Masquerade and my friends and I would curate playlists of mood music for our sessions. (Actually, curating mood music and writing backstories for our characters constituted pretty much the entirety of our V:tM time—I think we only played twice.) Anyway, here’s a partial list of songs from those playlists:

After The Flesh by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult
sample lyric: “We’ll infect your carnal mind after the flesh…”

The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen
sample lyric: “So soon you’ll take me up in your arms / Too late to beg you or cancel it though I know it must be / the killing time”

Dead Souls by Joy Division
sample lyric: “Someone take these dreams away / That point me to another day / A duel of personalities / They stretch all true realities”

Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde
sample lyric: “O you where a vampire and now I am nothing at all”

Devil Inside by INXS
sample lyric: “Here comes the woman with the look in her eye / Raised on leather with flesh on her mind”

Cry Little Sister by Gerard McMann
sample lyric: “Temptation heat beats like a drum / Deep in your veins, I will not lie…”

Lullaby by The Cure
sample lyric: “Quietly he laughs and shaking his head / Creeps closer now / Closer to the foot of the bed”

One Caress by Depeche Mode
sample lyric: “I’m shying from the light / I always loved the night / And now you offer me eternal darkness”

Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones
sample lyric: “I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes / I have to turn my head until my darkness goes”

Moon Over Bourbon Street by Sting
sample lyric: “It was many years ago that I became what I am / I was trapped in this life like an innocent lamb”

What songs would you add to this list? Put your suggestions in the comments!

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LinkHole: E3 Edition

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E3 Roundup collage
OH WOW MUCH GAME SO UPCOMING

E3 is all wrapped up, and the announcements came non-stop. Here’s some stuff we’re stoked for and some stuff we want to know more about:

Fallout 4
This is a biggie for us, we’re all devoted fans of the series. Rob already talked a bit about it when the trailer was released, and additional info on gameplay has only piqued our interest. Plus! Not only is the game due for release this holiday season, there’s now an iOS game called Fallout: Shelter to tide us over until November. (Fear not, Shelter is coming to Android, just not for a few months, sadly.) (That warm sensation you’re feeling is Rob’s white-hot rage radiating through the aether.)

Rob [via Facebook]: “Bethesda just dropped a bunch of new intel on Fallout 4…and I’m both wildly excited and a wee bit anxious. Will this be the game that finally teaches me to love crafting? Saying your game is like Minecraft doesn’t make me reach for my wallet. But I’m not kidding anyone–I’ll be lost to the world on November 10.”

Mary: I’m a relative new-comer to Fallout compared to these two, but I’m all in and super-excited for this edition. I’m already playing Fallout: Shelter on my phone, and while it’s basically SimCity: Apocalypse, if you have any love for this universe, you’ll probably want to grab it. I’m not gonna lie, I’m even considering getting that sweet collector’s edition so I can get my own Pip-Boy. I never buy collector’s editions, but the cosplay possibilities might be more than I can resist.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Mary: It’s hard not to see this trailer through the lens of last year’s Unity debacle… but let’s just be glad that Ubisoft is listening and has given us an excellent playable female character. Evie Frye is exactly the female assassin I want to play and Victorian London is an enticing location, especially the steampunky version shown in the main trailer and the gameplay walkthrough. Of course, I love this series more in theory than practice, but I’ll probably pick it up.

Cuphead
This lovely bit of insanity is hand-drawn, hand-inked, and brilliantly captures the animation style of the 1930s. Coming to Steam in 2016, Cuphead also features original jazz recordings and according to their website, “is a classic run and gun action game heavily focused on boss battles.”

Mary: I’m definitely checking this out as soon as I can.

Unravel
Reminiscent of the quiet melancholy and beauty of games like Limbo or Journey, Unravel is the tale of Yarny, a character made of yarn that slowly unravels as you progress through the gameplay. So far no release date has been announced, but it appears that the game will be available for both PC and console. Learn more at Unravel’s website.

Lego Dimensions
Dimensions is Lego’s answer to Skylanders.

Mary: First of all, can we talk about how adorable that trailer with Joel McHale is? I love the Lego games and am particularly excited by the IPs included here (SO MANY IPS!! Portal!! Back to the Future!! Lord of the Rings!! OMG!!). I’m not sure I can afford to get caught up in collecting all the minifigs, but the temptation might be too great.

Xbox One will be backwards-compatible with Xbox 360 games.
Sort of. Let’s call it “backwards compatible.”

Paul [via Facebook]: “They’re starting with a list of 100 by the holidays (there’s a couple dozen now), and they’re going to add more based on gamer feedback. Presumably it will be most big games eventually–but also presumably, I’ll never get to play Earth Defense Force 2017 on the One.”

Rob: This may be too little, too late for me, especially given Steam’s announcement of real live Steam Machines coming out soon. I haven’t done my homework yet, though.

Also note: Until this fall, you have to be in the invitation-only Xbox Preview program to play the 360 games. Here’s a list of the current titles (including BattleBlock Theater!).

The Kinect is dead. Or is it?
Yeah, so it looks like we won’t have the Kinect to kick around any more…for a while.

Rob: Note that Microsoft was quick to cover its butt and let us know that some forthcoming games will use Kinect, but it rings kind of hollow to me. While the tech has just never been quite ready, it was still a rare and wonderful example of Microsoft taking a risk in the console market. I wish they’d been able to deliver on its promise, but I feel confident that future generations of controllers will have some Kinect genes in their DNA.

Ashen
Mary: This looks very cool, and I’m a sucker for open-world RPG. Not sure how I feel about the faceless avatars, but I’d at least like to try it out.

Rob: This looks beautiful. I love the facelessness, mostly because it feels like a stab at uniqueness in a market filled with Uncanny Valley residents. But I have a bad feeling I’ll be more interested in watching Ashen than in playing it.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

Paul: This is maybe my favorite shooter ever (as discussed in our very first episode of Nerdhole!), and certainly my favorite game so far on the Xbone. PvZGW2 looks just as lovingly and conscientiously done as the original, with many improvements (detailed by Kotaku here) that address my main complaints about the game. First and foremost, they’ve added split-screen, side-by-side-on-the-couch multiplayer. I also love that every game mode is getting an offline AI mode—and, not surprisingly but thankfully, all your characters and upgrades will transfer.

The Walking Dead: Michonne
Breakout character Michonne gets her own Telltale game!

Rob: Well, this sounds like fun. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Telltale TWD game, but I’ve come to believe that may have been controller-related frustration, as I’ve had great good fun with subsequent Telltale games. We don’t know yet whether Danai Gurira will voice the character, but we can hope.

Mass Effect: Andromeda
It’s not out for well over a year, but Bioware had to shake things up a little with this announcement.

Rob: Wow, the trailer is fucking gorgeous. I was a very late Mass Effect adopter, but I’ve played each of the three titles many times through and will no doubt dive into this as soon as it comes out.

No Man’s Sky
This long-awaited exploration game (on its second E3 now) finally gets a preview.

Paul: I’ve been waiting for this forever, and my expectations are admittedly probably too high. I’ve been imagining my ideal crew of repurposed Mass Effect characters, privateering around a sandbox galaxy and occasionally landing the Mako for open-ended planetary exploration and swashbuckling. It’s still hard to tell what the game’s actually “about,” but … my expectations are (probably appropriately) muted. I hope the prosaic-looking pieces that we see here come together into something more. Watch the video and see what you think.

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WARNING! Fallout: Shelter Is Massively Addictive

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My vault.
My vault.

Nerdhole’s email thread regarding Fallout: Shelter:

Mary:
Ugh I can’t help it, I’m totally doing in-app purchases. Fallout: Shelter has taken over my iOS life. I don’t play SimCity, I don’t play Frozen, I ONLY PLAY FALLOUT: SHELTER.

I’m constantly worried about my vault dwellers! And if I send one out into the wasteland to forage I have to keep checking my phone to make sure he or she is ok. I’m about to spend my third $4 on supplies. I’m writing this in an effort to put it off, but who am I kidding? Eventually I will spend it!!

Paul, have you been playing?

Paul:
I got about five minutes into Fallout: Shelter and backed away in fear of just what you’re describing! But I think I may try again. The min-maxing pressure of where to place things and what things to place and being locked into your choices stresses me out—but I’m sure there’s an IAP to help with that!

Mary:
Yeah my first vault I just started placing things, so then I made a second vault to try to be more organized, but actually my first vault is thriving better. I just had a crisis where I couldn’t figure out why my dwellers were all sad and then I realized they all had radiation poisoning, and now they’re getting happy again.

I do wish you could shift stuff around like in SimCity. Even though you start with a core area and just start plunking stuff down, you can always move and reorganize.

Also you can NAME your dwellers, which is awesome. I haven’t started doing that yet, but it’s cool you can customize.

Rob:
Wow. Just throw this thread up as a post, title it “WARNING,” then walk away.

Mary:
Done and done.

More screenshots from my vault:

The kids born in the vault wander from room to room until they reach adulthood. This kid, Will, wandered in on a couple doin' it. Creepy. (The little green smiley faces from behind the cabinet indicate that baby-making is happening. If you put a male and female vault dweller into the barracks they WILL have babies.)
The kids born in the vault wander from room to room until they reach adulthood. This kid, Will, wandered in on a couple doin’ it. Creepy. (The little green smiley faces from behind the cabinet indicate that baby-making is happening. If you put a male and female vault dweller into the barracks they WILL have babies.)

The Radio Station can lure wastelanders to the vault where they can live in comfort and harmony. Mostly.
The Radio Station can lure wastelanders to the vault where they can live in comfort and harmony. Mostly.
Tim and Pam, gettin' it on for the second time. (Will is their kid.) Sexy-time takes a dweller's happiness level right to 100%, and pregnant lady dwellers will stay at 100% their entire pregnancy. Which is obviously 100% accurate.
Tim and Pam, gettin’ it on for the second time. (Will is their kid.) Sexy-time takes a dweller’s happiness level right to 100%, and pregnant lady dwellers will stay at 100% their entire pregnancy. Which is obviously 100% accurate.
In this picture you can see Will, the kid from earlier, all grown up. He enjoys working with his dad, Timothy, in the power plant. Will is equipped with a rifle, not the BB gun he wished for when he was little.
In this picture you can see Will, the kid from earlier, all grown up. He enjoys working with his dad, Timothy, in the power plant. Will is equipped with a rifle, not the BB gun he wished for when he was little.
OH NO! Disaster! Pam's been working in water treatment and something's gone wrong. Pregnant dwellers and children will run from disasters, and you need to bring other dwellers in to deal with the trouble.
OH NO! Disaster! Pam’s been working in water treatment and something’s gone wrong. Pregnant dwellers and children will run from disasters, and you need to bring other dwellers in to deal with the trouble.
The fire spread a bit, but the dwellers got it quickly under control.
The fire spread a bit, but the dwellers got it quickly under control.
Cynthia's intelligence is high (you can see the bar over the "I" in SPECIAL is taller than the rest). I also equipped her with a lab coat that gives her another +5 to intelligence (the blue part of that bar is the boost). She is happy working in the science lab.
Cynthia’s intelligence is high (you can see the bar over the “I” in SPECIAL is taller than the rest). I also equipped her with a lab coat that gives her another +5 to intelligence (the blue part of that bar is the boost). She is happy working in the science lab.
Timothy heads into the wasteland to forage for supplies and caps. He's now reasonably well-equipped so I haven't had to stay glued to my phone the entire time he's out.
Timothy heads into the wasteland to forage for supplies and caps. He’s now reasonably well-equipped so I haven’t had to stay glued to my phone the entire time he’s out.
Tim's journal lets me know everything that's happening to him. The green bar at the bottom will fill up with supplies as he picks them up. On his last expedition, which was four hours long, he picked up five guns and about 600 caps. It takes dwellers half as long to get back as the length of their expedition, so a ten minute mission will take five minutes to return from.
Tim’s journal lets me know everything that’s happening to him. The green bar at the bottom will fill up with supplies as he picks them up. On his last expedition, which was four hours long, he picked up five guns and about 600 caps. It takes dwellers half as long to get back as the length of their expedition, so a ten minute mission will take five minutes to return from.
The in-app purchases are lunchboxes filled with mystery items. You may get caps, food, power, water, weapons, armor, or dwellers. Whatever you're thinking now, you WILL be purchasing some lunchboxes. Good luck.
The in-app purchases are lunchboxes filled with mystery items. You may get caps, food, power, water, weapons, armor, or dwellers. Whatever you’re thinking now, you WILL be purchasing some lunchboxes. Good luck.
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Jurassic World Is Super Fun Despite Its Shortcomings

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Check out all the majesty.
Check out all the majesty.
Let me start with this: Jurassic World was never going to surpass the experience of seeing the original Jurassic Park in the theater in 1993 for me. It was the first time we saw real dinosaurs on screen (well, real-ish… more real than the stiff, plodding dinosaurs of movies past.) Jurassic Park‘s dinosaurs were smart, fast, felt like real animals, and they were brought to life in a way we’d never seen before. Yes, it was chock full of scientific inaccuracies, but that hardly mattered to the dinosaur-lover inside of me… I was Alan Grant, tearing up at the majesty and magic of the creatures, just as Hammond intended.

So Jurassic World was never going to be that. But it was also never going to disappoint me… I already knew there was a gang of velociraptors rolling with Chris Pratt on a motorcycle. And that was every bit as awesome as I anticipated… in fact all of dino-action was FANTASTIC. From the pastoral grandeur of the roaming herds of herbivores to the over-the-top, kick-ass climactic fight scene, Jurassic World DELIVERED. And seeing the park taken to the logical conclusion was satisfying, as were all the winks to the fans and nods to the original film. I loved it. I loved every minute of that stuff. I laughed with childish glee. If you’re at all hesitating, it is ABSOLUTELY worth seeing this in the theater, because the magnitude and action are the best things about the film.

That being said, literally every female character in this film is an eye-rolling stereotype or a prop. I mean, it’s not like anyone is well-written, but it’s particularly egregious with the women. This movie couldn’t be any more male-point-of-view. The main female character, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a lazy 1980s cardboard cutout of a corporate ice queen who doesn’t know how to have fun and is completely out of touch with her environment. Also probably she wants babies because every human female wants babies. Judy Greer—as Claire’s sister and the boys’ mother—was criminally underused. She has a weird melt-down at one point that’s completely unsupported by the plot, and also she’s sure her sister wants babies. The other female cast members include the older son Zach’s girlfriend (prop); Zara, Claire’s assistant (prop); Vivian, from the control room, who refuses the advances of her co-worker but also cries alot (I know people had just been eaten, but none of the dudes are crying!); and all the girls Zach looks at (also props).

The 22-year-old Jurassic Park was infinitely more feminist. In that film we only had two female characters but they were both solid. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is a badass, she’s clearly respected in her field, she’s not afraid to call people out, and she doesn’t burst into tears at every possible turn. Lex (Ariana Richards) was actually an improvement from the novel… sure she’s not thrilled about the outdoors, but it seems to do more with her being a computer geek (sorry, hacker) than a girl. And she helps save the day on more than one occasion… she distracts the raptors in the kitchen, and she knows the “Unix system.” Weirdly, even the female raptors in the original film were better written: they were calculating clever girls, whereas Blue and her gang take orders from a man. They couldn’t even write the female dinosaurs correctly!

This all makes it sound like I hated the film, but I honestly didn’t… it was everything you want and expect from a dinosaur-fueled thrill ride. In conclusion, I give Jurassic World 10/10 Barbasol Cans for awesome dinosaur action and nostalgia, but only 7/10 White Suits for mild sexism and exhausting tropes.

And now for some spoilers:

Continue reading →

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Ready for Opening Night of Jurassic World

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Hold on to your butts: Nerdhole heads to opening night of Jurassic World tonight, and I AM READY! I’m wearing my vintage 1993 Jurassic Park Island Tour tee shirt. 22 years ago today I saw the original on opening night with my best friend Chris and my two sisters. Chris nearly lost his arm like poor Mr. Arnold because I kept pulling on it in terror and excitement. Despite all the scientific inaccuracies and nonsense Jurassic Park is still one of my favorite movies of all time.

Obviously we’ll have lots more to say about this, and I promise my review will be filled with ALL CAPS and ALL OF THE EXCLAMATION POINTS.

jurassic park island tours tee shirt

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LinkHole: A Round-Up of Headlines From the Past 24 Hours

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The Martian
The Martian
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