After much hemming and hawing and uncertainty, I finally made the decision to purchase New Super Mario Bros Wii a few weeks ago. This is a new, 2D version of Mario for the Wii, following up on the successful New Super Mario Bros DS, which came out a few years ago and which I loved. The Wii version is pretty much the same, with the addition of multiplayer(!) and (obviously) being on the Wii.
I’d do a big lead up to what I think of the game, but it’s really not worth it: This game is tons of fun. It combines the best of the NES versions of Mario (particularly drawing a lot from Mario 3) as well as the SNES Super Mario World (SMW). In fact, I’d rate it only slightly behind Super Mario World, my all-time favorite Mario game, in terms of fun and difficulty.
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One of the great things about living in Chicago is Early to Bed, a “sex-positive, women-oriented shop,” with a goal of being “staffed by people who take their sex toys seriously and are able to honestly answer questions about toys and sex in general.” (I feel particularly spoiled because they’re in walking distance of my apartment.) A few weeks ago, I responded to an open invitation they had on their blog, asking for sex toy reviewers. I was lucky enough to be selected, and today picked up my first toy for review: A Luxe Magic Massager.
Luxe Magic Massager, in all is luxe-ious glory.
My first impression of the Luxe Magic Massager didn’t blow me away. The packaging is certainly functional, but the picture on the front is slightly out of focus and the back contains clinical language about not using on “inflamed areas or skin lacerations” and a 30-day warranty which requires sending in a $12 money order for processing. The back also says “SOLD AS A NOVELTY ONLY,” which means the manufacturer is able to dodge laws restricting the sale of sex toys but, more importantly, is able to dodge listing the contents of the product. (And, sure enough, while the Luxe is “Assembled in the U.S. with pride,” it was made in China.)
Indeed, e2b recommends basically any soft-material sex toy other than silicone be used with a condom. Alas, the Luxe doesn’t say this on the box, so I’m saying it now: if you’re using this (or any other “novelty” toy), or are unsure of the toy’s material, use a condom! I’ll be honest, I’m a little less worried about this particular toy, because it won’t be going inside me or used on any skin with porous membranes, but for anal play I only use toys with condoms or well-washed silicone. (And now I’ll get off my soap box and on to the actual review!)
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Just got Galcon on my Android phone to tide me over while I’m traveling this week. (And am currently playing it instead of, y’know, memorizing my lines or prepping for my show…)
It’s a pretty great game, described by Penny Arcade as “Space Risk in Real Time.” That is, you’re trying to take and hold planets by moving armies around. There are no dice rolls – it’s a pure numbers game – and the bigger your planets are the faster you generate new armies.
At an easy $2.99, available for iPhone and (in a larger edition) for computer) I highly recommend it.
I bought this one! This one! Mine!
As I mentioned last month, I bought an electric bike shortly after I got out of the hospital. Specifically, a Currie EZip Trailz. (I feel particularly clever because it’s currently $499 at Amazon, but I bought it for a brief period when it was $399.) I haven’t really discussed it much since then, though, so I figured it was time for an actual review.
First, a bit on how electric bikes work. They all have some sort of motor connected to a battery, allowing for extra oomph while biking. The motor is either strapped onto the fame (like my bike) or, for more expensive models, built into the hub of the wheel. The hub motors are better and quieter, but the external motors are cheaper. The battery then goes somewhere on the frame of the bike, in this case attaching to the rear rack. Again, on fancier bikes, the battery is more well-hidden. Depending on the style of the bike, you get power to the motor either automatically, by pedaling, or manually, by a handle-mounted throttle or trigger.
The Trailz is about as low-end of an electric bike as you can find. It’s a steel frame, so it’s super heavy, the battery is less expensive, so it’s heavy, and the motor is mounted rather than hub-based, so it’s heavy. With the battery, the bike weight about 90 pounds. Without, it’s closer to 75. I got the step-through model because, to be totally honest, it’s a bit more girlie. So sue me.
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A partially obscured shot of a female face. How original for a book dealing with a trans character...
I just finished reading Almost Perfect, a young adult novel about a high school senior, Logan, who falls for a girl, Sage, that he eventually learns is trans. It’s well-written and believable, told from the first-person perspective of Logan, and does a good job of being injecting humor without being light or unrealistic. As someone who is a trans fiction aficionado, it was very refreshing to find a trans main character in a book that isn’t sensationalist or belittling. Or overly optimistic and picture-perfect.
There will be spoilers beyond this point, so consider yourself warned. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I would definitely recommend Almost Perfect. But a title like that should tell you that it has an ending which is – at best – bittersweet.
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Like computer games? Like indie computer games? (Like the previously-mentioned World of Goo?) Than you’ll love The Humble Indie Bundle. It’s a pay-what-you-can system where, for whatever you decide to send toward the project, you’ll get five great indie games, and some of your money will go toward two amazing charities: Child’s Play and The Electronic Frontier Foundation. The games also all run on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I feel like I’m using too many italics in this post, but I’m crazy excited at projects like this.
They’ve already raised over one million dollars (prompting an extension of the Humble Bundle) with more than $100,000 going to each of these developers and each charity. I paid $20 (slightly more than the average) but feel like I got more than my money’s worth.
So go! What are you waiting for?!
I’m out of the hospital (thank goodness!) and slowly recovering, but thought it’d be fun to do mini-reviews of the many movies I’ve watched this past week. Enjoy!
Star Trek (the new one) – I’m ashamed, as a geek, to admit that I’d never seen a Star Trek movie or TV episode before watching this. But, having seen it, I want to go back and watch some of the older ones. I really enjoyed it! I wasn’t totally expecting to (and the morphine may have helped) but I thought it was a good mix of action, intrigue (at least enough intrigue for an action movie), and character development. I also thought they did a good job offering nods to past Star Trek characters, and I’m sure I would have gotten tons more references if I hadn’t just been relying on the bits and pieces of Star Trek lore I’ve accumulated over my years. Verdict: Definitely worth watching
Sunshine Cleaning – I started this movie expecting a dark comedy with some drama, and ended up watching a dark drama with some comedy. Which, fortunately, was worth it. But I did not see the movie I was expecting, so be warned if you’re looking for something lighthearted. I was really pleasantly surprised, though, at the lesbian character who shows up midway through the film. She very easily could have been cast as a man, without making any major plot changes, but she just happens to be a woman. Her sexuality was never the focus of a huge, dramatic scene, but simply wove into the rest of the plot. I also really liked the casting of this movie, from the young son up through the grandfather. Verdict: Worth seeing
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – I originally had no interest in seeing this movie (considering it revisionist blasphemy) but a good write-up on io9 made me want to check it out. It certainly wasn’t amazing – even at their worst, Pixar makes better movies – but it was more enjoyable than I expected. The plot was pretty weak, even for a kids movie, but it was pretty and the cute little romance between the main characters was fun to see. It had some good gags, or at least I thought so while on morphine, but you wouldn’t miss anything amazing if you gave it a pass. Verdict: Worth watching with kids, or on morphine
Continue reading 'Movie reviews from a hospital bed'»
I wish I remember who recommended Transgender Voices: Beyond Women and Men to me. It may have been through this blog, but…oh well! The book is written by Lori Girshick, a “sociologist and social justice activist,” and is an exploration of 150 interviews she conducted with individuals who responded to a survey looking for “gender transgressors.” Much of the book directly quotes these interviews, with Girshick interjecting her summarized opinions and conclusions throughout.
The book is divided into 6 chapters, with multiple sub-headings in each chapter. The chapters are:
- The Social Construction of Biological Fact
- Self-Definition: Birth through Adolescence
- Constructing the Self: Options and Challenges
- Coming Out to Community, Family, and Work
- Gender Policing
- Inner Turmoil and Moving Toward Acceptance
There is also an epilogue, “Gender Liberation,” and an appendix with the survey-advertising flier and the survey itself.
As you may be able to guess from the book’s subtitle, “Beyond Women and Men,” and even more so from the chapter titles, I generally agree with the politics of Transgender Voices. Girshick does a solid job of representing a very wide spectrum of people, and (for the most part) she interjects her own thoughts only to provide context or summarize how aggregate groups felt, rather than impose a specific definition of identity or gender.
However, in the introduction, “Identity Boxes,” Girshick lays the groundwork for a view I’m not 100% comfortable with:
My own bias in this book is to advocate for liberation from the binary gender system, which for many people artificially restricts the fullest expression of self. At the same time, though, I deeply respect those who wish to identify with “male” or “female,” “man” or “woman,” and are willing to undergo expensive and painful medical treatments to achieve physical correspondence with who they feel themselves to be given the current gender system.” (Pg 11, Emphasis in original)
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Full disclosure: I wanted to dislike Humpday. I really did. It’s about two straight men who decide to make a gay porn film together, and I remember seeing previews and thinking, “Ugh, that’s gonna be really homophobic under the guise of being indie and counter-cultural.” The Netflix description didn’t reassure me, talking about “sex communes” and elevating dares. (I can’t actually find this description on netflix.com, but it was the one that showed up on the ‘Watch It Now’ streaming menu.)
I was pleasantly surprised to be (mostly) wrong.
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For the last week or so, I’ve been making my way through Angharad’s epic piece of trans fiction, Easy as Falling off a Bike. It follows the tale of Cathy, a trans woman in her early twenties, as she’s pushed toward transitioning, love, and, well, I’ll let the author describe it:
Stella, someone who could get women drivers a bad name, literally knocks Charlie off his expensive racing bike. She discovers that Charlie, a research field biologist, has a secret. He’s gearing up to transition as a woman, only he’s too frightened to do it. Stella takes control and her brother, Simon not only fancies ‘Cathy’ but falls in love with her.
Follow the mayhem, as this romantic and at times adventure story rambles all over the place as they pursue their lives. Keep the tissues handy, it has pathos, humour and real life, as Cathy deals with the triumphs and tribulations of being a woman.
Continue reading 'Trans fiction: Easy as Falling off a Bike'»