'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

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
Use the Force, be the Sith
Nothing says "holiday season" this year quite like a Sith hero.
December 20th, 2011
01:40 PM ET

Use the Force, be the Sith

Star Wars: The Old Republic” wants to put geeks and nerds in the “Star Wars” universe with its new massively multiplayer online (MMO) game officially released today. As organized as the "Star Wars" fan base is, it's no surprise that game-makers BioWare and Electronic Arts' servers are swamped.

While some of those who preordered were able to start playing around December 13, the development team at BioWare is very anxious for fans of the classic franchise to jump in and experience what it is like to live with (and perhaps battle against) Jedi and Sith. The writing team for the game spent 60 man years (that’s 525,600 hours) in crafting a world that they know is going to be closely analyzed by “Star Wars” enthusiasts.

Daniel Erickson, the lead writer on “SWTOR,” and his writing team pored over every bit of information they could get – from movies to books to comics to encyclopedias. He said they have to be on their game because there are three different types of fans out there, and they will all be looking for details specific to their memories of “Star Wars.” FULL POST

Formative gifts of geek celebrities
Every once in a while, a holiday present manages to make it OK that you're a nerd.
December 19th, 2011
06:05 PM ET

Formative gifts of geek celebrities

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in 'paranormal pop culture,' has lectured at conventions across the country on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at paranormalpopculture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

For an emerging nerd, the holidays can be a formative time of year. In the yuletide, when gift-giving is at its peak,  family members and friends see us for the geek that we are, the geek we will become, and embrace us for it.

Even in this day and age, when geek is chic and images of nerds are all over pop culture, that kind of honest acceptance is rare. When loved ones give us gifts that speak to our true nature without attempting to judge or change us, it leaves a lasting impact.

In that spirit, CNN's Geek Out! reached out to a few famous nerds to share their fondest geeky gift memories – and to also share how becoming accomplished members of the nerd herd has affected the kinds of goodies they now receive. FULL POST

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Filed under: Brainiac • Fandom • Holiday Shopping
Get the Japanese wardrobe of your dreams
Takeshita-dori in Harajuku.
December 15th, 2011
03:23 PM ET

Get the Japanese wardrobe of your dreams

When fans of Japanese culture and fashion think of shopping, they think of Tokyo.

It would be a dream come true for many of those fans to actually make it to Japan's capital city and get lost in a gigantic department store like Matsuya or Mitsukoshi. Of course, a plane ride and enough scratch for a new Japanese wardrobe are probably not what Santa has in his sack of gifts this year. As the difference between the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen continues to grow, it's less and less practical for Americans to yield to Japanese fashion desires.

But it is possible to translate a love of Japanese fashion into an accessible American wardrobe. Here's how to get started. FULL POST

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