Spider-Gwen

Spider-Man has always been a thing. I remember being younger and singing “Does Whatever A Spider Can” while swinging on the swings back in elementary school.

At some point last year, I started hearing about ‘Spider Gwen’ and seeing her pop up around the internet. The first thing that really got me was her costume, created by Jason LaTour, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi. The design was very creative and bright compared to all of the other Spider-Spin-offs I’ve seen. Not to mention, it’s Gwen Stacy, same girl (SPOILER ALERT) who was suppose to be dead.

Spider-Gwen Design

Now, I was not a huge Spider-Man fan. I liked the character, but didn’t necessarily follow along in the comics. I very much enjoyed watching The Amazing Spider-Man movie with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and thanks to the internet, was spoiled about Gwen Stacy’s demise after looking into the series. Gotta love the internet.

So other then watching both movies, I didn’t get a whole lot into the Spider-Man universe until I found out Spider-Gwen was getting her own series. I went out and bought Spider-Gwen Issue #1 when it was released. Read through, loved the art, but wasn’t instantly drawn in by the story line. It felt a little slow to me… Still decided to give it a shot and collected the next two when they came out.

Spider-Gwen Covers

Glad I did.

Spider Pig Cameo

Gwen Stacy’s sarcastic-humor is a nice touch to her character as well as the add-in of Spider-Pig in the second issue (thank you The Simpsons). Like I said before, the first villain, the Vulture didn’t seem like much of a threat at first, but I liked how the progressively built his character and pitted him against Gwen.

Gwen Stacy

Gwen’s character design is also interesting enough as well. The fact they decided to give her shorter hair than her original counterpart was a nice touch, and the fact that they give her moments of mourning for her universe’s Peter Parker is a good swing in the right direction in character development. I look forward to seeing what happens to her guilt for Peter Parker’s demise in future issues. Not to mention she was a drummer for The Mary-Janes.

P.S. – I wasn’t much of a fan of Mary-Jane in the first place, but Spider-Gwen’s version of Mary-Jane really makes me not like her. Can’t understand why Gwen stuck around with her for so long.

Looking forward to seeing where Latour, Rodriguez and Renzi take Spider-Gwen next (as well as really wanting some cool Spider-Gwen gear).

Bad Habits

When I started running a few years ago, I didn’t read up on it or look into proper techniques. I mean, it’s just running, right? How much could really be involved? Turns out I was super wrong. While running short distances is no problem, when you get into longer runs, bad habits will really come back to bite you. I’m currently recovering from an IT Band strain and can’t run more than a few miles, as an example. I thought I’d share a few of the good habits I’ve started, so hopefully you can avoid the same mistakes I made.

1. Drink Water. I know this sounds simple, but up until a year ago, I used very little water on my runs. I didn’t even own a hand carried water bottle when I trained for my first half marathon. Granted I still don’t use one on short runs, but anything 8 miles or more? You bet I’m grabbing my water bottle (or belt!).

2. Use energy gel. Whether it’s in goo or chew form, use them. I thought it sounded ridiculous at first, but it made a huge difference. I don’t feel like I want to die when I finish a long run anymore, which is pretty great. Plus they give you that nice boost at the end to keep pushing for those last few miles.

3. Stretch! This is what led to my current injury. I never stretched or foam rolled my legs after a run, and apparently when you’re training for a marathon and running 15 miles or more every other weekend, this is really a bad idea. I’ve started foam rolling ever since, and it makes my legs feel a thousand times better. It literally takes 5 minutes, and should be done after any long run.

4. Find a training program. When I ran my first half marathon, I just winged it and ran whatever I felt like on my training runs. It wasn’t the end of the world and I did finish it, but once again, it could have been a whole lot easier. I discovered this during my second half marathon in which I used one. There are a whole bunch of training programs out there, so take your pick! I use (and enjoy!) the ones by Hal Higdon.

There you have it. Four simple things that will make your running life a lot better. If I could go back in time, I’d start doing these things from the beginning so I could avoid the current injury I’m dealing with.

injured-runner

Thanks to Emily for encouraging me to make these changes!

Phantom…of the hourglass!

After playing through Majora’s Mask on my 3DS, it got me thinking about the other Zelda games for the DS that I never beat, and I decided to give them another go. First up: The Phantom Hourglass.

The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_Phantom_Hourglass_(logo)

I can’t remember why I stopped playing this game. The only thing I can think of is that some other game came out, and my attention was pulled away. I didn’t get very far on my first play through, so this was basically a completely new game to me. Phantom Hourglass takes place directly after Wind Waker, and has the same art style to it. You are once again sailing around the ocean from island to island, but this time are chasing after the elusive ‘Ghost Ship’ that has taken Tetra. You end up running into a traveler named Linebeck and it’s his ship that you travel around on as you adventure onward.

Phantom_Hourglass_ShipOne major difference from Wind Waker? You can change out the parts of your ship! As you complete side quests and salvage buried treasure from the bottom of the ocean, you will come across new parts which you can equip. There are certain combinations that will give your ship more hearts, which is a little more motivation outside of making your ship look cool. I enjoyed this way more than I probably should have.

The only real problem I had with the game is how gimmicky it is. This game was clearly designed to show off all the features of the DS and they felt forced at times. For instance, there are several times where you have to shout into the microphone to get a person’s attention or cause a monster to be attack-able, and I found it rather annoying (especially when I was playing late at night). That goes double for having to use the stylus to attack all the time. JUST LET ME PUSH A BUTTON, DAMN IT!

I wouldn’t say the story is fantastic, as it’s the standard Zelda style adventure, but I’m also not complaining. You kill monsters, you find things, then you kill more monsters, and you find more things. All while trying to save Zelda and restore order to the world. I suppose the ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ rule applies here. Again, no complaints.

Overall it was a good, but gimmicky, game. I’m sure had I played it 7 years ago when it came out, I wouldn’t have minded all the ‘features’ it was showing off, but it feels really dated now. If you’re a huge Zelda fan like myself, I’d definitely say give this game a play through, but if you’re not, I’d say skip it as it’s nothing to write home about.

Home Improvement(s)

This past week I picked up my old copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf with thoughts of deleting my old story (which I hadn’t touched in at least a year) and starting anew. Isabelle’s (the game secretary to your character’s mayor) frantic jibberish when I first approached the topic however made me rethink my options.

So I dove back into my old file. And I’m addicted. (Especially to fishing. Seriously, I think there should be a Fishing Anonymous out there. “Hello, my name is Emily and I cannot stop fishing on Animal Crossing.”)

My addiction to Animal Crossing however did get me thinking about home décor. My character currently has the patchwork collection going for her, while in real life… Our place is not quite as collected. What would I do if I could get furniture from neighbors and money collected from my fishing obsession?
Home Improvement(s)
I really like the urban/industrial look. Bricks, reclaimed wood, hanging lights… My house would have a lot of these traits.
Home Improvement(s)
As well as industrial décor, I would have to add in some geek elements (wouldn’t feel right without it.) I’d want to do it thoughtfully, like placing Funko POP figures in wooden frames mounted on the wall.
Home Improvement(s)
There are a lot of useful geek items too, like this R2-D2 measuring cup and Death Star cookie jar that would go in the kitchen. Books, comics, photos and my banjo would be placed on this shelving unit.
Home Improvement(s)

That’s no moon. That’s a cookie jar!

What would you add to your home (and proudly show off to your neighbors)?

5 Reasons to be a Cubs fan

  1. They are not the White Sox

If you want to root for a baseball team from Illinois, you have two options, but really only one if you have any kind of sense. Yeah, they won a World Series in 2005, but they’re still the worst. Plus they play in that prison of a baseball field called U.S. Cellular.

  1. Catchy Songs

Want to listen to multiple songs about your favorite team? Be a Cubs fan. They may not all be winners, but they’ll still get stuck in your head after a few seconds whether you like it or not. Evidence here and here.

  1. The Cubs/Cardinals Rivalry

Is there anything better than watching the Cubs beat the Cardinals? Answer: No, there is not. Count the rings all you want, there is no washing away the shame of losing 7 games to the 2012 Cubs.

  1. Young Talent

Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Jorge Soler, just to name a few. The Cubs are going to have to pay for all the damage these guys are going to cause with the long ball. ALL YOUR OFFENSE ARE BELONG TO CUBS.

  1. Wrigley Field

Clearly the best stadium in the league, and with the renovations, it will get only better. Suck it, other teams.

That’s No Moon

Marvel announced last year that they were going to be releasing not just one, BUT THREE new Star Wars comics, and being a huge Star Wars fan myself, I was fairly intrigued by the idea even though I hadn’t been into comics for the last several years. Over the last few months each of Star Wars, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia has come out and I’ve managed to snag a copy of each one so far. The only bump in the road I’ve hit was having to pick up a copy of Star Wars #1 off eBay as my local comic book shops sold out in a few hours. Apparently there was a lot more demand for that one than I anticipated. Or at least more jerks buying multiple copies to re-sell at a higher price.

STAR WARS #1 & #2
StarWars1

As expected, this comic follows the entire group as they attempt to keep the momentum of their biggest strike against the empire (blowing up the Death Star) going. I love the fact that the reader is immediately thrown back into the thick of things with the crew on another action packed mission to weaken the already loosened grip of the empire. To no one’s surprise, things don’t go quite as planned and they have to improvise to keep the mission alive. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it’s been pretty fantastic so far. I also really enjoy the art style as it has a lot of detail to it which makes it feel realistic, and really helps draw you into the world. They definitely spent some time on it and I can really appreciate the effort. Of the three comics, this is the one I’m enjoying the most, but that’s because it reminds me of the movies, which I love.

DARTH VADER #1 & #2Darth1

These comics follow Darth Vader after his greatest failure yet, the destruction of the Death Star. Due to his failure Darth Vader has been pushed out of the emperor’s inner circle and now has to report to General Tagge instead. The interactions between the two are excellent, as Vader is still intimidating and acts inconvenienced more than anything. The story is focused on him trying to secretly figure out what the emperor is up to, as well as attempting to track down the young rebel pilot responsible for blowing up the Death Star. It has been less action packed and more dialogue driven, but the writing is superb and it easily keeps my attention. Plus it does have exciting moments from time to time. The art style once again has that realistic detail, but with a slightly darker feel. I’ve got no complaints with it at all. The Darth Vader comics have been a great ride so far.

PRINCESS LEIA #1leia

I know there have been other Leia focused stories in the past, but this is the first one I’ve picked up, and was really looking forward to it. I was not disappointed to say the least. This story starts exactly where Episode IV left off, so you get to see what happened directly after everyone left the award ceremony for Luke and Han (still waiting for Chewbacca’s medal, damn it!). As would be expected, the leaders of the rebellion are all busy with getting the base on Yavin evacuated and finding a new planet suitable for their needs. Nobody wants Leia to go anywhere or do anything as she is wanted by the empire, but she isn’t having any of it. With the help of a rebel pilot named Evaan (also a female!), she sets out to find and protect the remaining citizens of Alderaan. Both Leia and Evaan come across as strong, bad ass characters which should make for a great adventure and story. The only problem I have with this comic is the art style. It’s not as sharp and has more of a cartoon-ish look than the other two, and I just wasn’t super impressed. It’s not bad by any means, and it’s certainly not going to stop me from buying the next issue.

Overall, I’ve been really pleased with Marvel’s latest foray into the Star Wars universe. I’m going to be picking up each of these from now on and I couldn’t be happier about that fact (although my wallet might be a tad bit sad). I highly recommend checking them out if you have the chance!

Comeback Series

Everyone has them. A moment you gave up on something because it left a bad taste in your mouth, and later after some kind of persuasion you give it another chance and end up going back. And no, I’m not talking about relationships.

Whether it’s been on the TV screen or in the theatres, there have been several series I have given up on due to lost of interest due to poor storyline writing or the movie/show itself is just too slow for my taste. However, there are a few that after someone or something influenced me to comeback and watch it again that have grown on me.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of SHIELD
When this show first came out, I was very excited. I am a Marvel fan, have enjoyed the movies, and the thought of a TV show based on the Marvel movie storyline was intriguing. The first episode was good, but after watching a few more episodes I was unimpressed by the ‘no-duh’ story. I could see Skye becoming a good person and falling for Agent Ward. So I stopped watching it.

Then, after being persuaded to watch a few more episodes and seeing the changes that happened after Captain America: The Winter Solider with HYDRA, I was brought back to watching (and enjoying) the show. Characters like Agent May and Coulson had depth, and the coupling Skye and Ward didn’t end up endgame either. Thank God (way too predictable for my tastes).

Just finished season 1 (favorite scene from the finale “Hey guys, I found it.”), and am gearing up for season 2. Still not sure how I feel about Skye, but I like the other characters enough to be curious as to what happens next.

Star WarsStar WarsI never originally watched the original Star Wars movies, probably due to the fact that my dad never would have taken me for a Star Wars fan? I was however taken to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace by my dad when it came out in theatres. It wasn’t horrible, but I remember Dad not being too impressed. When Star Wars: Attack of the Clones came out, we went to see that one as well. However, after watching that, we were all unimpressed (its so unmemorable I can’t remember why) and that’s where my Star Wars story almost ended.

It wasn’t until I started dating Chris that I watched the first original movie at his suggestion. Star Wars: A New Hope was good, but I also wasn’t jumping to watch the next one. After a few more months and being suggested several times to watch the fifth movie, I watched The Empire Strikes Back and latched on. Several days later, I watched Return of the Jedi and knew why people enjoyed Star Wars. The creative storyline and planet backgrounds as well as the dynamics of each individual character was much better then the movies I had seen years ago.

Hoping Disney delivers with The Force Awakens this December. In the meantime, I’ll probably watch 4-6 again as a refresher while dreaming of Ewoks.

Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit

The Hobbit

My family ended up getting Lord of the Rings when it came out on DVD for Christmas. I popped into the DVD player to watch one night, and after all of the scenery shots in the first 30 minutes and slow plot, I turned it off. I did not give Lord of the Rings another chance (much to the chagrin of many friends.)

However, when The Hobbit was released in theatres, several friends in college dragged me to see it on opening night. I’ll admit, I fell asleep at first (I honestly did in the first 30 minutes). I woke up after a few minutes though and watched the whole thing… And liked it. I liked the story of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit who never asked for an adventure and was very realistic in terms of character (afraid of danger, stuck to his previous ways.) I loved the magic and the adventure throughout all three movies, as well as the scenery (and was thankful said background was not the main focus.) Bilbo Baggins’ evolving character was strong and well built, hats off to J.R.R Tolkien.

(P.S.- Tauriel may have been an original character to the story movie-wise, but I enjoyed having a strong female character to follow… Also could have done without the romance.)


I’m sure there will be more comeback series in the future for me with the way stories develop. What about you? Do you have a movie/TV show you grew to dislike, and then came back to enjoy?

Lets talk about baseball!

Since the Cubs have made some significant moves, I’ve been following the off-season fairly close and decided typing up a short post on my thoughts on the NL Central teams as they currently stand would be fun. Obviously, I picked that division since it’s the one the Cubs are in, which is all that matters. I’m doing it in a worst to best order as that seemed the most logical (plus we all know who is at top, and let’s avoid that for a bit shall we). Let’s do it!

NLCentral

Reds (76-86)

Honestly, I’m not sure what Cincinnati is doing. When they traded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, it looked like they might be starting a rebuild, but then traded for Marlon Byrd with one year left on his contract. That seems like a ‘Go for it now’ kind of move, but the other trade doesn’t make much sense in that regard. This will be an interesting year for Reds fans. Still with Cueto, Phillips, and Votto they could be surprisingly average and I would put them slightly ahead of the Brewers.

Brewers (77-85)

When I started writing this, I couldn’t think of much the Brewers had done this off-season, and it turns out there was a reason for that: They really didn’t do much. The only trade of significance was sending Gallardo to Texas, but there was no major league players in return so the help for this year is questionable. Ryan Braun might return to his previous form after dealing with injuries last season, but it’s not something I would count on. Not to mention Lucroy just went down with an injury, and if he is out a large amount of time the losses could really pile up. I fall into the camp that believes the insane start they had last season was more of a fluke than reality, so 77 wins seems about right. Assuming everyone stays healthy that is.

Cubs (84-78)

I never thought I’d be excited over a middle of the pack predicted finish for the Cubs, but after the last couple of years, it looks nice. Theo and company have added Joe Maddon as the manager, signed Jon Lester, re-vamped the catching situation with Miguel Montero and David Ross, and traded for Dexter Fowler to help patrol the outfield. It’s been an active offseason for the Cubs to say the least. Where they actually finish in the division will depend hugely on how well the young players such as Baez, Soler, Bryant, and others preform, which is why everyone should keep their expectations under control. If all the things break right for them (highly unlikely) they could finish well above this, but they could also finish slightly below this if the young players struggle. A middle of the pack finish is a good prediction, as they stand to do better than last year and this isn’t far above it. No matter what though, it’s going to be an interesting season.

Pirates (85-77)

The Pirates didn’t do a ton this off-season either, but have made the post season the last two seasons in a row, and I suspect a third trip is in order short of some disastrous outcome (Or the Cubs sneaking past them!). They lost Russell Martin to free agency, and didn’t add a catcher, so that could weaken them a bit. They added Corey Hart and Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang which will help offset some of that production loss, but it’s no guarantee. They also brought back A.J. Burnett, and while he is a bit of an unknown variable, if he returns to his previous form he’ll be more than adequate to take the mound every 5th game. Plus they have McCutchen, and good lord is that guy impressive. I’d look for Buctober to come again this fall.

Cardinals (86-76)

What can I say about the Cardinals? They’re good. They have average or better players at almost every position, and the depth to overcome injuries. The only weak spot might be their rotation, but that’s only if they start to show their age and regress, and that’s a long shot. Even if that happens they’ll probably just pick up a pitcher who has been struggling or isn’t that great, and he’ll become a Cy Young candidate. The Cardinals know how to work that voodoo magic. They picked up Jason Heyward to offset the loss of Oscar Taveras (both a really tragic and avoidable accident) and made a few other minor moves that I can’t remember. They were first last year and will more than likely be first again this year. I really hate that they are this good.

So what is the takeaway from all of this? The Reds and Brewers are going to be mediocre at best, the Cubs are a huge wild card with serious upside, the Pirates will hold their own, and the Cardinals will be good as usual. As a Cubs a fan I want to believe they will win the division as Rizzo has predicted, but it’s more likely that the young guys will have their ups and downs, and the Cubs will hopefully be competing for a Wild Card spot come September. I don’t mean that as a bad thing either, it’s FANTASTIC.

No matter what the season holds though, I can’t wait for baseball to be back and the 70° weather it brings with it. Let’s go Cubs!

P.S. I just remembered the Cardinals signed Carlos Villanueva who was a good long man reliever for the Cubs. Damn it, Cardinals.

Ode to Paper Mario 64

Like a leaf in the wind
Oh how you float through the air
Paper Mario

Paper Mario

After playing through part of the game on the N64 growing up (I had a pretty short attention span growing up), I was very excited to see that I could finish Paper Mario on the Wii U via eShop. Both the art and the RPG style hooked me in.

Paper Mario - Kooper

The storyline is pretty interesting as well. Its simplistic; end goal is to save Peach and the kingdom from Bowser. I enjoy playing as Mario as he travels through different lands with various partners he picks up on the way (my favorite so far has been Kooper) to find all of the Star Spirits to overpower Bowser and his godmoding star wand. It’s also cool how you switch from Mario to Peach throughout the story and play spy to help Mario figure out where he needs to go next.

Paper Mario - Bowser & PeachCreeper.

With the amount of fun I’ve been having playing this game, I am a bit surprised there’s not much merchandise out there to buy. Thank God for Etsy, where I can look at things I want (and cannot afford.)

Paper Mario - MerchandiseBag | Star Keychain | Mario Keychain

Once I have completed this game, my eyes will be peeled for the sequel Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Here’s to hoping that one is downloadable as well.

Mask wearing Link

I’m a huge Zelda fan, so when Nintendo announced they were releasing an updated version of Majora’s Mask for the 3DS, I immediately pre-ordered it. Turns out it was a good idea as the limited edition version (with a skull kid statue!) sold out with in a few hours. Nintendo did a great job with the statue and I’m really glad I was able to snag one.

Majora's Mask

In my opinion, that was the only Majora’s Mask themed item they got right. They made a Majora’s Mask 3DS, but it’s all gold with the mask in a black outline. All I can say is….what were they thinking? Majora’s mask has great vibrant colors, and they could have made a purple 3DS with the mask in full color, popping out on the lid. I only needed a passing glance at the actual design to decide to pass on it. They did almost the exact same thing for the Majora’s Mask messenger bag available to Club Nintendo members – all black and no color. I was once again super disappointed.

The other reason I was excited for this game is that Majora’s Mask is one of the Zelda games I haven’t played a bunch of times. While I’m still remembering quite a few things, there are times when I’m not a 100% sure what is coming next, and that’s a great feeling. It also helps that this game is slightly abnormal when compared to the other Zelda games. The three day mechanic and having masks that transform Link in various ways definitely make the game stand out. I’ve only completed one dungeon so far, but I’m enjoying it just as much as the first time I played it.

The only downside to the updated version? Nintendo once again added the hint stones that show you exactly what do, just like they did with Ocarina of TIme. I feel it really hurts the game if you use them as half the fun of these games is figuring out where to go next and solving the puzzles that come along. Plus, it’s fairly easy to figure things out already as Tatl (your companion fairy) gives you plenty of hints. My suggestion – Don’t use them. You’ll thank me later.

Overall, it’s still a great game and you should play it if you haven’t already. Updating this game so it can be enjoyed by both the generation that saw it released and the generations that it’s new to, was an awesome idea. Now here is a little poem I wrote during my 15 mile run on Saturday to end this post:

I finished my long run
And 15 miles wasn’t fun
But still I pushed through
with the help of Chews
Now it’s time sit on my ass
and play Majora’s Mask