Monthly Archives: January 2017

Verdict – Emerald City

If you didn’t know, NBC has created a new show called Emerald City, which is a reinterpretation of the Wizard of Oz. When I first heard about this show I was curious because the world of Oz is definitely a familiar and interesting place for stories. The 2 part pilot episode caught my interest, but felt a little rushed. Now that I am on episode 5 I can definitely say that I am hooked.

The first couple of episodes definitely felt like they were trying to move past the pieces of the story that everyone knows and just dive deep into the craziness that is Oz. They change the story in fairly interesting ways and make the story much deeper than expected. The other piece that makes for an expanded universe is that the story is not just about Dorothy, but about an ensemble cast of characters all with different flaws and motivations. There is just one mystery after another to unfold.

Getting Past the Obvious

Now the first two part episode definitely felt a little rushed, but after getting past it the rush makes some sense. They were trying to move past the standard checks to get to Oz and start the adventure.

So we meet Dorothy who was abandoned as a girl with the Gale’s, which definitely feels suspicious. When she tries to go visit her estranged mother of course is when the tornado hits and suddenly she is in Oz, riding in a police car with a dog (so Toto). The Witch of the East gets hit by the car and assumed dead. Now instead of being praised Dorothy is tortured because apparently only a witch can kill a witch in Oz. By the end of the episode we have met the “Scarecrow” – a soldier who was left for dead and doesn’t remember who he is – and are on the way down the Yellow Brick Road. We have also met Glinda, the Witch of the West, and the Wizard all in the 2 part episode and it moves quickly.

Interesting Twists on Characters

The different twists and the different characters from Oz is actually fascinating. Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West are actually sisters, apparently all the witches in Oz are considered to come from the same mother. The mythology that they present is very deep, but the interesting part is that magic is now forbidden in Oz. There is an odd balance between the Wizard, who banned magic, but saved the Emerald City, and the witches. The “Tin Man” is a boy who almost died and was saved by replacing the majority of his body with metal. An interesting thing in Oz is that they believe in magic, but not science, so when presented with science they read it as magic. It makes for some interesting moments with Dorothy – who knows science.

Growing Mysteries

I feel like for every reveal the show introduces another mystery. I mean the original mystery is who was Dorothy’s mom and why was she abandoned. Then there are many different characters who appear to be more than they seem. The three biggest power players all seems to have plans within plans and so far I am not sure what those plans are. In the most recent episode there was a predictable reveal, but it does open up a whole other line of intrigue to explore. The nice part is even with the ever-growing mysteries they also do keep answering some of the questions along the way. At the same time it will be interesting to see where they end up on the show.

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A Quick Recap on Platypus-Con 2017

So we didn’t make it to as much of Platypus-Con 2017 as we’d hoped to, but then, they didn’t need us to.

Sounds like it was very well attended! I didn’t make it until Sunday (and Holly sadly didn’t make it at all, darn being sick!), which meant I didn’t get a commemorative d6 – which is too bad, as I use mine all the time. At least I made it before they sold out!

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Audio

Hidden Figures – Comparative Opinions Episode 31

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, hosts David and Holly made it out to theaters to see Hidden Figures, and they break down this uplifting and excellent movie for you! Definitely one to see, probably one to read the book for too!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

Selling Art Online: Then and Now

My first ventures into online entrepreneurship were stationery and greeting cards. This was the early 2000’s, and the Internet was dotted with tiny webpages hosted by ISPs as an added “perk” for using their services. Free webhosts like Geocities and Webs.com were super popular for artsy types who were looking to connect with one another and share their ideas, design experiments, and free products.

When I first started learning to use photo editing software, there were a million places you could go online for free, detailed courses and tutorials. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for the free information culture of the early Internet.

I learned how to create my own stationery and templates, how to build a website, how to manage payments and track online orders, and a lot more, all for free without ever having to enter my email address or give out any personal details. I went by the moniker “Lionchilde” for over a decade, and no one needed to know my name.

The difficult part back then was always making sure that your design work was print-ready, and then the upfront expenses of printing and shipping. Your ability to make money was heavily curtailed by how much money you had to spend upfront.

About half of internet users were still on dialup, so “best practices” for designing an image-heavy website involved creating lots and lots of tiny thumbnail galleries that linked to “preview” pages which had images not much bigger. Thumbnails had to be manually generated, either in your image program or with a special utility. (We’d probably call it an “app” today, though I don’t know if anyone would still need a thumbnail generator app. Image hosts generate thumbnails for us, as do WordPress and Blogger.)

WordPress’s thumbnail size.


I got out of selling pre-made art online for a while. Startup costs were high and returns weren’t reliable. I’ve still got a package of cardstock sitting in my house from ’06. This year, I decided to return to to selling premades–from cards to book covers and anything else I feel like. I’ve been exploring the “scene” for papercrafts and checking out various online marketplaces. I’ll report back with observations of a geeky nature as I have them. For now, here are my findings:

These days, there are print on demand stores for just about everything. You can offer digital downloads on Etsy, CreativeMarket, Evanto Marketplace and several others. Of course, that convenience means a considerable chunk of your profit.

You can probably find a lot of information about creating paper products or managing online sales by reading blogs, but if you want a detailed course in photo editing or business finance, you’ll have to pay for it with either your email address or your cash. (And if you “pay” with your email address, you’ll almost certainly be spammed with “added value” that leads to an upsell.)

You can still find plenty of Photoshop tutorials on YouTube, but there don’t seem to be as many for “alternative” software like GIMP or Paint Shop Pro.

The internet seems to be moving steadily, from a culture where information and free content are there to foster community and connection, to one in which information is currency and free content is a bribe for access to your email inbox or social media feeds. On the flip side, access is easier and more streamlined. Print on demand services make it simple and straightforward for designers and artists to earn cash without a great deal of overhead.

There’s been an explosion in processor speeds, hard drive capacity, internet speeds and modes of connectivity since I started selling my art online in the 00s. Internet use has grown exponentially as well. Overall, these advances are positive and have helped me find a way to make money without sucking all the pleasure out of creating things. I’ll keep an archive of free stuff online as long as I can, too.


If you like this card, hop on over to my Zazzle store where you can customize and print it for yourself, or my Creative Market shop where I have a zip file of pre-made ones.

The Difficulty of RPGs, as Told Through Revisiting Dragon Age

Recently, I got sick after coming back from travel, which is the worst. What was awful about the cold I had though was how it didn’t have too many symptoms (sure, slight sore throat, little congested, whatever) except for an absolute exhaustion that rendered me completely useless. In addition to that exhaustion was just a need to ignore everything else going on and a deep desire to do something comforting, entertaining, and familiar. (Much as David was feeling recently.)

And so I booted up Dragon Age: Origins and started a new character.

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