Friday, November 25, 2011

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Friday

Those Best Buy lines are brutal!
Once again I am postponing my metric shit-ton of album reviews for a specialty post. This one concerns Black Friday sales, so those of you not in the States are instead encouraged to watch this new performance video from Jonathan Coulton.

I mean, my fellow Yanks can certainly do the same, but first you might wanna peep the savings.

Amazon, of course, is having its annual crazy-ass Black Friday sale, complete with ample Lightening Deals. Obviously the big draw for our tribe is their video games. Which featured items tickle your gamer fancy is highly dependent on your system of choice, but my suggestion would be the Skylanders: Spro's Adventure Starter Pack in the appropriate flavor -- especially for those of you with kids. If you're not in the know, the game essentially substitutes physical toys in the place of traditional DLC. You import these figures into the title, level 'em up through play and their stats can be saved back to the miniatures. This means that your save states, at least as far as characters' powers and attacks, are essentially cross-platform.

On the subject of multi-platforming, I gotta say my favorite version of the Skylanders is the 3DS iteration. It looks and plays amazing, and if you haven't yet snagged Nintendo's new handheld this really is the time. Super Mario 3D Land is the de facto system seller, but games like Skylanders, the Ocarina of Time and Star Fox remakes and the forthcoming Super Mario Kart 7 -- which I've already received my review copy of, so I can assure you it's a must-play -- ably supplement any library.

Closer to home, the Penny Arcade shop is having its annual blowout. There are lots of cheap tees and posters, but the big news concerns the pricier items. Those ultra-classy Jim Darkmagic paintings are presently $26 off. (Which is one more than $25 off.) There's also a new Fruit Fucker figurine. It's forty bones, which I think is regular price, but it's brand new and hilariously offensive. Oh, and domestic shipping is free until December 15th for orders over $50, so you got that going for you.

Wizard Rock icons Harry and the Potters were the first band to announce a holiday sale -- another tradition, if memory serves. They got them $5 CDs, son, so stuff yo' stocking! They also have free shipping on orders of $50 or more, but you gotta use the magic word "DOBBY" as your checkout code for the trick to work.

MC Lars, meanwhile, is offering 50% off everything at his web store. That Lars and YT Beavis and Butthead tee? 10 bucks. Legend of Zelda hoodie? Seventeen-fitty. Collectable USB robot key ring with his whole MP3 catalog? $25. The discount is applied at checkout, though, so don't freak out if everything still says the original list price on the product page.

Still, the one I'm most excited about is the Kirby Krackle Black Friday sale. Jim and Kyle got $7 tees and $5 GelaSkins (iPad 1 and iPhone 4 only.) They're also offering $2 button sets, and every order gets some special freebies. This one starts today at 8:00 AM PST and runs 'til midnight on Cyber Monday, so don't delay, nerdlingers!

Now these are just my initial picks, so if I missed some good shit -- especially merch sales by musicians -- please feel free to point it out in the comments.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Save Against Fear

I'm kind of supposed to be wrapping up album reviews today, but instead I'm choosing to pause and do something I rarely do here at the blog: speak seriously.

I don't have any alarmingly depressing statistics right here in front of me or anything, but I'm willing to guess that many of the people reading this have had their lives touched in some way by sexual assault or abuse. Those who haven't experienced it themselves likely know someone who has, whether they're able to speak about it or not.

We in the nerd community do a lot of good work – supporting charities like Child's Play and Extra Life – but these sort of things, occurrences that are even more disturbing than the thought of sick children, we tend to push out of our minds. It's difficult to think about, but ignoring it neither helps the victims nor provides the sort of therapeutic training necessary to aid caregivers. All it does is keep us afraid.

Save Against Fear seeks to change that. This 45-hour RPG, tabletop, and board gaming event is presented by PA's The Bodhana Group, and benefits children and adolescents impacted by sexual trauma. The fundraising gamer marathon runs December 2nd through 4th at Six Feet Under Games in New Holland, and it features everything from West End's classic Ghostbusters to multiple flavors of D&D. The money raised will be used to fund local projects by The Bodhana Group including an Outpatient Treatment Center, public speaking engagements and both professional and lay trainings.

More information about TBG and Save Against Fear is available the group's site and, of course, on the Facebooks.

If you're going to be in the area during the event, please stop by and help out the cause. And even if you aren't there are many ways to give. Even now the team is working to fill tote bags for players and collect additional items to be used as awards and door prizes in drawings. If you, your band or your company would be willing to donate, please contact the event organizers. Contributors will be acknowledged through both the printed event materials and on the web.

Also, I will forever think that you are an awesome person for helping out a good cause. And you can't put a price on that.