'Her Universe' is Ashley Eckstein's battle cry
Ashley Eckstein, left, strikes a Jedi pose with a young fan.
December 23rd, 2011
03:34 PM ET

'Her Universe' is Ashley Eckstein's battle cry

Ashley Eckstein, voice of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" kick-ass Jedi Ahsoka Tano, believes there is a stereotype built around girls who like sci-fi that's as thick and impervious as a brick wall. And it's finally starting to crumble.

The words geek and nerd "are not necessarily being looked at as negative labels anymore," she said. For the last two years, her company Her Universe, which creates sci-fi fandom T-shirts, hoodies, pajamas and jewelry for women and girls,  has proudly been using the phrase "geek girl" in their advertising and communication.

"Like, 'heck yeah, I'm a geek girl, and proud of it!' " Eckstein said. "I think that that's a major shift. If you had seen, a couple of years ago 'geek girl,' in an article or if you were being referred to as a geek girl, it wasn't necessarily a positive thing." Geeky girls, she said, have similarly been marginalized when it comes to expressing their love of sci-fi.

"Several years ago girls just had to accept the fact that if they wanted to show off their fandom and their geek pride, they were just stuck wearing a guy's oversized tee," she said. "And I'm trying to say, 'No, you can look fun and sexy and flirty and girly and strong and powerful all at the same time.' Our items are just as geeky as what the guys have but they're truly made for women." FULL POST

I want my Totoro (but I was not fast enough)
December 23rd, 2011
12:22 PM ET

I want my Totoro (but I was not fast enough)

Last week, the Austin-based Mondo (The Alamo Drafthouse's collectible art boutique) shook up the Internet by announcing a brand new collaboration project between two very well known names - artist Olly Moss and Studio Ghibli. The first poster in this series was based on "My Neighbor Totoro", the beloved 1988 animated film about two young children who encounter a mythical creature.

A total of 590 of the posters were made, 420 of the regular version in English and 170 of the variant version in Japanese. Mondo announced them on sale on Twitter last Friday, and within three minutes, they were sold out.

It was impressive to see how voracious collectors were to own this piece of art, at $50 for the regular version and $90 for the variant.

Twenty-three years after the release of the film that inspired it, "My Neighbor Totoro" has firmly established itself as a part of the iconography of Studio Ghibli. Even in America, the furry grey beast with the pointy ears has become a memorable symbol of all the magic and joy associated with Ghibli productions. FULL POST

Emergency last-minute gift suggestions from a girl who knows about geeks
This gamer's crest T-shirt from Penny Arcade features the motto, "Bonus ludus."
December 22nd, 2011
05:44 PM ET

Emergency last-minute gift suggestions from a girl who knows about geeks

Editor's note: Liz Smith ("aka 'Dammit' Liz") is the geeky stage manager for W00tstock. She regularly caters to nerd royalty like Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage, Paul & Storm and Jonathan Coulton. One thing she’s learned is that one-size-fits-all does not apply to the nerdy persuasion. Based on her expertise (and the contacts in her phone), she offers these gift suggestions for the geeks and nerds on your list. Follow Smith on www.dammitliz.com.

For the geeky traveler (or soon-to-be traveler):

  • Point it: Traveller's Language Kit –The Original Picture Dictionary" by Dieter Graf may be the best book for new travelers adventuring off to exciting places. It is a language-free travel dictionary that one can use as the book says and point at an image of what one needs, assisting with communication. These pictures help provide what every hardcore traveler is looking for: a fun and accessible way to connect and engage with a new culture.
  • Solar powered chargers are fantastic gifts and compatible wherever there is sun.
  • This unique scratch-off map is great for travel "completists" - geeks who value owning a complete set - because it lets them methodically uncover all the places they have traveled.
  • For those who need to be completely prepared, the "Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel" is a good bet.

For the television series geek:

  • "Doctor Who"-inspired jewelry is a fun and unique gift for fans of the British sci-fi series. I own two etsy creations inspired by the Doctor. They are subtle enough that only those in the know can appreciate the beautiful and simple tribute to one of my favorite shows. I get more compliments on my TARDIS necklace than anything else I wear. Of course a Sonic Screwdriver Pen or Adipose Stress Toy are also appropriate, as is this TARDIS USB hub.

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Filed under: Fandom • Holiday Shopping
Vader takes on 'Hitler' in historical rap battle
December 22nd, 2011
04:25 PM ET

Vader takes on 'Hitler' in historical rap battle

It's not every day that you see actors portraying Darth Vader and Adolf Hitler battle it out, in rhyming form. On YouTube, however, it has now happened twice.

Nice Peter (Peter Alexis Shukoff) and EpicLLOYD (Lloyd Ahlquist) have been delivering these "Epic Rap Battles of History" for more than a year now on YouTube, and the start of their new "season" of rap battles sees a rematch between Vader and Hitler, the first of which received well over 45 million views. (Warning: All these videos include strong language that might be offensive to some viewers). Thus far, Nice Peter and "Epic Rap Battles' " YouTube accounts have a grand total of 360 million page views.

The rematch, with its homage to "Return of the Jedi" intro, already has more than 7 million views. (Again, discretion is advised on these videos, as some may find the humor or language offensive).

These videos are a peek into the epic good-and-evil dynamic that is explored in many favorite fan franchises, not to mention that they poke fun at historical figures, something history geeks enjoy. In some cases, these kinds of exercises (not unlike Spike's "Deadliest Warrior" series,) might also be seen as another way to look at, and get a sense of comfort about, world history. FULL POST

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Filed under: Fandom • Squee!
Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin sign on for 'Ender's'
December 22nd, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin sign on for 'Ender's'

"The Ender's Game" is getting its cast in place: Variety reports that the adaptation of Orson Scott Card's novel has Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld signed up.

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