T-Shirt Tuesday – Good Queen Bess

The Shirt: Everyone knows that Queen Elizabeth I was a total boss. She might have been the “Virgin Queen” – but who has time for men when you’re busy defeating the Spanish Armada and leading England into a Golden Age? She was all that and a glass of ale.

Payment: Sold via Headline Shirts, who accepts Paypal and all major credit cards.

Styles: Available in adult sizes S-XL.

The Game Over Greggy Show

Greg Miller, Glen Ellyn native and Portillo’s hot dogs fan boy, is a known voice in the online gaming community.

Greg used to work on IGN’s Playstation review team, where he founded the incredibly popular podcast Podcast Beyond covering the latest happenings in the Sony universe. Since then, he’s gone on to work for IGN’s video team as the host for the online web show, Up at Noon. As a personal side project, Greg has also started his own private YouTube channel, GameOverGreggy.

Greg’s loud and opinionated, but also extremely funny. And he’s got some very cool friends. Together, with these aforementioned cool friends, Miller has launched a new show called the Game Over Greggy show. He and three or four others get together and each brings a topic to discuss. These things range from the decriminalization of drugs to the latest news on Star Wars VII. The breadth of subject matter is wide and the opinions are definitely diverse. Typically it features regulars Nick Scarpino, Tim Gettys, and Colin Moriarty but there have been special guests like comedian Aisha Tyler.

While I’m not much of a Up at Noon viewer, I have really enjoyed the Game Over Greggy show. It’s a great place to hear some VERY smart nerds talk about all sorts of societal and cultural issues and questions. The podcast flows very naturally as Miller goes a good job facilitating a conversational podcast. If you want the full MP3 the day it’s released, go over to Bandcamp and pay a dollar. If you don’t mind waiting, the previous week’s episodes are released in sections throughout the week for free on YouTube.

The Game Over Greggy show is getting decent viewership, but I’m trying to give it a signal boost. It’s a cool show and I’ve been a longtime fan of Miller’s, so check it out!

-E.B.

Review – f(x)’s Album Red Light

This week’s featured review is of the new K-Pop album from girl group f(x), Red Light.

The group f(x) is a peppy blend of hip-hop, synth pop and hipster fashion. Hip-popsters, if you will. They released a hit single “Rum Pum Pum Pum” last summer, topping the charts in Korea. Now, their full album has been released, and I gotta say I’m a big fan.

Now, since I don’t speak Korean (sadly.) I am limited in my analysis on the lyrical quality of the group as a whole. Still, as an avid K-Pop listener, I can sense the refinement and quality in the overall listening experience.

The namesake track, “Red Light” has a smooth and catchy melody, extremely hum-able without monotonous repetition. The group’s resident rapper, Amber, is solid – my personal favorite in the group. The rest of the album has a number of well-made tracks, spanning a variety of sounds. This is mainstream pop for sure, but there’s enough of a original spin on the delivery that f(x) establishes themselves as a hip “alternative” mainstream band. Think along the lines of a more quirky Girls Generation if you’re looking for a more direct comparison.

As far as what’s the best single to pull from the album if you aren’t ready to commit to a full album purchase… it’s actually a tough call. Obviously, “Red Light” is the record-slaying summer hit. It’s catchy and rhythmic, and if you are particularly new to K-Pop, it’s a very accessible song. My personal favorite is perhaps the most thematically quirky song, “Dracula” (yes, like the vampire.) It might be more suited for a Halloween party than casual listening, but this thing is one part quirky charm, one part mega catchy. It’s sharp sound, filled with a blend of staccato lyrics and smooth harmony is borderline addictive. Amber delivers a noteworthy performance with her verses between the major chorus. It also fits the slightly darker image that f(x) is trying to establish for themselves in the sticky-sweet world of K-Pop.

I highly recommend you give the album a listen on Spotify if you’re on the fence about buying any of f(x)’s music – I promise you’ll be downloading the full album off of iTunes soon enough. That’s what happened to me anyways!

- E.B.

Wednesday Cosplay – Yuna

This week’s featured cosplay is Natasha Firsakova‘s Yuna cosplay from Final Fantasy X.

Natasha Firaskova is a Russian cosplayer with some serious chops. She’s done a multitude of Final Fantasy cosplays, touching on many iconic characters from the series. My personal favorite is her Yuna cosplay from Final Fantasy X. As my fellow gamer and JRPG bro, Ben, likes to say – Yuna is the Elizabeth Bennet of video games. She’s the classy love interest with a inner strength in a society that dictates what she should do and say. Likewise, her outfit is one of the least sexualized Japanese female character design in existence.

Major props to Firaskova’s photographer, Alina, for this sacred rite themed photo shoot, inspired by an in-game cutscene where Yuna performs a “sending” ritual. The rite is a slow, Tai Chi like exercise done along a beach shore – and this scene is a hallmark moment in gaming history. Alina’s photography work with the water is stunning and really sells the cosplay.

The overall quality in the construction of the Yuna outfit is commendable. There are many cheap looking, factory made Yuna outfits out there – but Firaskova clearly used high grade quality fabrics. The small accentuated details in her belt are spot on to the character model. Her summoner’s staff is also awesome – it looks like the real deal. It’s a great piece!

- E.B.

8-Bit Gaming in Your Browser

Have you ever gotten the hankering for playing those old school, 8-bit classic style video games? There are always ROM emulators, but sometimes you can’t find a ROM file that works for your computer or you might be somewhere you can’t run a full application.

Cue, 8BBIT – an online library that hosts all of the great, classic titles you might remember from childhood. The best part is they play right in your browser, so no installation is required! They have some delightfully obscure titles, like Advanced Dungeons and Dragons - Dragons of Flame or The Adventures of Dino Riki. Also, they have a large number of Japanese video games, but most of the titles lack translation. Still, the games are fun, even if the back story eludes you.

Anyways, it’s a great way to kill some time and educate yourself on the history of gaming. Check it out here: 8BBIT

- E.B.

Featured Art(ists) – The Remenar Twins

This week’s featured art(ists) post stars Valentina and Marina Remenar.

Valentina and Marina Remenar (similar to the previously mentioned Satruns) are twin sister artists based out of Slovenia. Both sisters have had their work featured in various places on the internet, including the Daily Devation shown above. When I do write ups on these sibling pairings, I just want to scream because there is SO much talent in a single family! Jeez.

These sisters are some of the most digitally present artists I’ve seen on the internet. They post work in progress videos and paintings/drawings/illustrations with great regularity. They also post work on Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt and yes, Google+. Much of the work is fantasy or sci-fantasy in theme, so that’s right up my nerd-tastic alley. Their costume and weapon design for characters has a fresh feel – imaginative but sophisticated.

The Remenars are currently working as artists for the indie action RPG, Amaranthine Story. The project is currently fundraising for development – check out their Facebook page and consider sponsoring them on Indiegogo.

Not only are their character illustrations gorgeous, but their scenic work is also stunning. It’s hard to believe these women are only 21 years old, given the magnificent texture work and fine detail. They have an extensive gallery of gorgeous manga and manga-inspired art as well. In addition, the Remenars have created some great tutorials for artists interested in digital painting, particularly in an anime/manga style. I highly encourage you to look through their portfolio and gallery – there’s such great work.

- E.B.