Geek Fuel Unboxing – January 2017 (SOOOO LATE!)

I used to do a lot of apologizing about late subscription box openings, but I refuse to apologize for this one! (Although it is going up on the blog even later than…you know what? Just shush.) We were quite certain upon opening that this was February’s Geek Fuel, but it turned out to just be an extraordinarily late January box. Fancy that. But did we enjoy it regardless? Watch the video to find out!

Tracey’s Basement

If you guys aren’t already followers of my YouTube channel – Tracey’s Basement – why not? It’s full of geeky goodness, and it’s only getting better, so why not take a look? Here’s my most recent video, which is a “Content Update” to let everyone know what kind of videos are going to be coming up in the (fairly) near future. Give it a look and I know you’ll want to stick around to see what comes up next. ^_^

Glorious Gifts

Memoir MondaysRecently I was telling a coworker about my daughter’s special Rocket Raccoon stuffy from Santa and how much she loves it. That got us talking about some of the best presents we’d ever received in our childhood. One of the top ones, which I’ve mentioned before, was when my parents managed to track down a used copy of Final Fantasy III/VI for the Super Nintendo. I nearly lost my mind over that one, but of course there were plenty of other memorable ones.

  • When my cousins and I “graduated” from kindergarten (pre-school, to some of you), our teachers put together this cardboard-and-construction-paper wishing well for us to toss pennies into. I got a coin from my parents and tossed it in while wishing aloud for a teddy bear. This must have been quite amusing to my parents because, lo and behold, when we got home they had a teddy bear waiting for me. With good nature they insisted that the wishing well must have sent it, and my believe in magic was rock solid for months, at least.
  • When I was around the same age, some family friends gave me my first ever Play Doh set, the Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop. My mom had to grit her teeth at the gift because we had lots of carpet at the time (and if you don’t understand the issue you obviously have never watched a young child play with Play Doh) but I was ecstatic. That play set was the bomb, and I maintain to this day that it was the best Play Doh play set ever.
  • Someone, at some point (my memory is actually quite fuzzy on this one), gifted me with a large make-up pallet. It was full of lip gloss, eye shadow, and blush in bright, vibrant colors, and was probably meant to be marketed to teenagers, but I got it when I was around ten. I looked like a complete doofus whenever I tried to apply anything and I totally embarrassed myself by going to school with a bunch of it on one day, but I had a blast screwing around with it until the whole case was empty.
  • When the Nintendo 64 console came out I was a loyal subscriber to Nintendo Power magazine. I was always reading the articles about the new system and gushing about how amazing the “3D” graphics looked. Fast forward to grading day. My parents handed me a tell-tale rectangular box and I thought, “Yay! A new game for my SNES!” But when I ripped off the wrapping it turned out to be “Shadows of the Empire” for the N64. Knowing that my parents weren’t exactly geniuses when it came to video games (my mother called the games “movies”) I assumed they’d messed up and told them so. Then my father pulled an N64 box from behind the wall. I was never so happy to have been mercilessly fooled by my parents.
  • When I was younger (say, 8-ish), it was actually pretty difficult to find video games. We only had so many stores that sold them, and they generally only carried so many. So whenever we’d travel to the bigger city where my aunt and uncle lived it was an opportunity to look for a new game. During one such trip we were walking through Toys R Us when my father noticed that a new game called Mario Paint was on sale. I had no idea what the game was (this was before my Nintendo Power subscription and long before we had internet), but when my father asked if I wanted to get it I happily said yes. It turned out to be absolute loads of fun. My cousins and I played it for hours, and it was the kind of game that I would keep coming back to month after month after month.

I was a lucky kid for sure, to regularly receive so many fun and memorable presents…some of the things I mentioned I even still have today! I hope that someday my daughter will be able to look back on her childhood and remember some of her favorite gifts…perhaps even a particularly special little stuffed raccoon…

The Funko Pop! TAG!

I’m a big believer in allowing yourself to enjoy the things you love, regardless of outward influence. Such an attitude is more difficult to cling to when you’re, say, a teenager, because at that age it seems like no matter what you do or say there’s someone waiting in the wings to torment you about it. But as an adult I’ve settled into myself and come to know that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about how you spend your time and money; as long as you’re enjoying yourself (and, obviously, not hurting anybody).

That’s why, much to the eye-rolling disbelief of plenty of the older generation of family members, my husband and I have become collectors of the nerdy variety. We love figures, sculptures, posters, comics, toys, and collectibles, and in recent years have amassed a nice little hoard with which to decorate our still-in-progress Nerd Basement.

Amongst the collectibles that have been piling up in our house is my rapidly-growing-out-of-control Funko Pop! collection. I’ve shared my hauls here before, including the ENORMOUS one that was a result of my husband getting out of hand with last year’s Christmas gift. I just love the little guys to death, and there are so many of them in so many awesome fandoms that it becomes impossible to stop getting them.

Because of my obsession fondness, a while back I was approached by fellow YouTuber, The Lawn Gnome, about participating in his upcoming Funko Pop! TAG. I was more than happy to comply, and recently I finally got around to actually filming the video. So if you’re curious as to which Pops are my favorites, which ones I’m looking forward to, or how I got into Pops in the first place, feel free to have a look!

What’s your opinion of Funko Pops? Do you collect them? Which are your favorites? Which ones are you just dying to get? Please share!

Nerd Block Unboxing and Review for May 2015

Okay, so we’re well into the fifth month that I’ve claimed I was going to cancel Nerd Block and then didn’t. The problem is that they keep throwing out themes that sound interesting, and I’m weak! So with that thought in mind, check out the unboxing video for the “Ani-May” Nerd Block:

What did you think? Let’s just say that I’m not terribly disappointed that I stayed on for yet another month. Let’s look at the breakdown:

Mobile Suit Gundam t-shirt: Though I didn’t get this shirt in my size, I’m still pretty impressed with it. It’s a nice, standard design without a bunch of useless flair, and the fact that it’s an older show that I actually used to watch is definitely a plus. My hubby will be the one wearing it, but even so I’m pretty happy with the shirt this month. Giving this item the standard t-shirt value of $15.

“Freiza” Funko Pop: It is terribly unfortunate that they chose to send a Dragonball Z Pop in the anime-themed box, since I already have almost all of them. I can appreciate the fact that it was a good choice for the anime-themed box, but it’s just too bad that they didn’t send something from one of the lines I don’t have. Regardless, I’ll give this item the average value that Funko Pops tend to cost around my neck of the woods, which is approximately $13.

“Cowboy Bebop” Convertible Bandana: Although I’m not really sure how I’m going to use it, I have to admit that this item amuses me a bit, because it’s something different. The fact that it’s Cowboy Bebop helps, because that is definitely one of the greatest anime shows of all time. Maybe I’ll use it to keep my hair back when I’m gardening. 😛 Regardless, based on similar bandana products, this item is worth about $10.

“Neon Genesis Evangeleon” manga #1: Now we’re talking. Although I don’t read manga nearly as much these days, I still appreciate it, and it’s awesome that this is the anime they chose. NGE was one of my favorite ones when I was younger, and yet I don’t have a single one of their manga, so this is a nice book to get for sure. I definitely approve of the choice for this item, and since manga go for about $12 each, it’s a nice value to the box as well.

“My Neighbor Totoro” pins: Yeah yeah, I’ve never seen it. I’m sure there are lots of nerds out there right now screaming internally, because Totoro is supposed to be a classic. Despite my ignorance on these matters, I can appreciate these cute little pins, especially the one with Catbus on it, because I find that ridiculous and funny. Based on similar pins this four-pin set would go for about $6.

“Attack on Titan” drawstring bag: This is another show I haven’t seen, although I’ve heard lots and lots of good things. It’s also an item that I’m not terribly fond of, because I find these vinyl drawstring bags look pretty cheap. That said, it is a bag, and everyone sometimes needs a bag, so I’ll take it. These types of bags retail in at about $10, which – just for the record – I would never pay for one of these.

Total approximate value of box: $66
Total cost to me: $37

So right off the bat, the first thing that I want to point out is that this is the first themed Nerd Block for which every item in the box worked perfectly with the theme. In the previous themed boxes there was at least one item in every one that had absolutely nothing to do with the theme, but for this month’s box every item was definitely anime-themed. That makes me like it automatically, because what’s the point of a theme if you don’t stick to it, right?

The second thing I have to mention, of course, is the fact that the Funko Pop was one that I already have. That sucks – it really does – but it was bound to happen eventually and I can’t really down-rate the box because of it.

The third thingI want to mention is that while I’m not on the up-and-up with Nerd Block’s new desire to put books in all their boxes, I do appreciate the manga that was in this one. For one thing, it’s an excellent story. For another thing, it adheres to the theme, which is something the previous books didn’t really do. So two thumbs up for that one.

In conclusion, it was actually quite a good box. The shirt was a good one, the Funko would have been awesome if I didn’t already have it, the manga was a perfect choice, and the other two little items were cute additions. All in all, I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The overall cost to have a Nerd Block shipped to me is still pretty painful and makes it less worth getting, but it’s nice to see a box that was straight-up good.

The question now, of course – as I mentioend in the video – is whether or not I’m going to continue on for next month. I had planned on cancelling after May’s box anyway, because the cost of it is just not okay with me, but then they threw out that “British Invasion” theme, and I’m torn. What if there’s a super-cool Doctor Who item in there and I miss it because I cancelled? Rawr. This is the problem with these subscription boxes!

So, as I said in the vid, I’m looking to you guys for advice. Do you think I should hold on for another month, or should I finally do what I’ve been saying I was going to do since Christmas and cancel my Nerd Block subscription? There’s only four days left to decide, so vote quick!

Act the Age You Want to Feel

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngI’m not entirely sure whether the Writing 101 crew genuinely believe in the importance of free writing, or if they just ran out of ideas for assignments at this point. Either way, they start the assignment off with a very true quote from author Anne Lamatt: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”

Today is a free-writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second-guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.


I’ve mentioned before that I think a little bit of childishness in life is a good thing. After all, you never want to grow up too much, and adulthood is stressful, so why not do fun, silly things to relieve some of that clenched-jaw-ed-ness? So today, for my free-write, I’m going to provide you with a few ideas for things to do to break out that inner, significantly-less-stressed-out, child. Side note: I have personally done every one of these things myself.

Get yourself a pack of crayons and a coloring book and have at it. Bonus points if you get the mega-pack of crayons and the book features characters you loved as a child.

I suggested this once before, a few years ago, and it still tops my list of fun, childish things to do. There’s something very cathartic about putting crayons to paper, especially if you let yourself get wacky with your color choices. Plus it’s such a mindless kind of activity that you can hardly help feeling calmer and more zen-like once you’ve created a few Crayola masterpieces.

Curl up and watch a few episodes of one of your favorite childhood cartoons.

Thanks to the internet it’s not terribly difficult to track down downloadable files of the shows you once watched as a kid, even if those shows haven’t been available on a physical media for years. So go download some Tiny Toons or Ren and Stimpy and give this suggestion a try! You might be surprised by the smiles that creep onto your face when those old friends appear on the screen. You may also find yourself groaning and cringing as you realize how lame some of your childhood favorites seem these days, but that’s actually half of the fun.

Curl up and watch a few episodes of a modern-day cartoon.

I’m gonna let you in on a secret that really isn’t very much of a secret, depending on how much attention you pay to this blog: I watch a lot of cartoons. Shocking, right? But also pretty understandable considering that I have a young kid. But what if I told you that I don’t watch cartoons with my daughter just because I don’t feel like fighting over the remote, but because I genuinely enjoy watching cartoons with her? Sure, some of them are painful (*cough*Dora*cough*), but there are lots that are genuinely fun, clever, and entertaining. Or, at least, a lot more fun, clever, and entertaining than the things adults are expected to watch, like the news and reality TV. So curl up with some Spongebob, Ninja Turtles, or a Disney flick and just enjoy the little guilty pleasure smiles that sneak up on you while you’re watching.

Go for a swing.

Go do this right now. Find yourself a swing set, whether it be the one you set up in the backyard for the kids, or the one at the local park, and start swinging. Pump your legs hard to go high and fast, and then just let yourself coast down until you slow to a gentle rock. Then try and tell me that you don’t feel at least a little better about life.

Act like a monkey.

I don’t mean literally act like a monkey, but take a cue from the way kids refuse to sit still and just climb and roll around like a fool. It helps kids expend energy, but it can actually help adults to gain energy. When I’m tired and cranky, one thing that perks me up is flipping around on the couch, hanging my head over the side, and throwing my legs up in the air. It looks goofy, but it gets the blood moving and gives me that little rush of energy. Climbing a tree would be even better, but since I don’t have any good climbing trees nearby I’ll just have to stick with my couch for now.

Think like a kid.

Some of these suggestions might require a little bit of time, planning, and working around other responsibilities, because after all, you are an adult and you have lots of things to deal with on a day-to-day basis. But there’s one thing you can do anywhere, any time of day that will immediately make you a little more carefree: think like a kid. See the world through a kid’s eyes and you can’t help but cheer up. Stuck in a boring, pointless meeting? Make up stupid songs in your head to get you through the boredom. Walking to work down a busy public street? Pretend that the cracks in the sidewalk are electrocuted and take care to avoid them. Customer in line in front of you at the fast food joint pitching a fit and holding you up? Imagine them as a big, ugly, drooling ogre and try to keep your chuckles to yourself.

Because, ultimately, what makes kids amazing is their ability to let their minds wander to happier, more amusing things, and to turn the whole world around them into an adventure. And if adults could harness that ability to just let the real world melt away every now and then…well, I think we’d all be a lot happier and a lot more stress-free.

Blogging 101, Day Thirteen: Build a Better Blogroll

In case you hadn’t caught on by now, a bit theme in the Blogging 101 challenge is that community is key. Interacting with other bloggers (and readers, of course) is a huge and very important part of blogging. And for that reason, having a blogroll can be a boon. What is a blogroll? Put simply, it’s a list of links to other blogs you enjoy that you share on your own blog for other people to peruse. It doesn’t have to just be blogs, of course. You can share whatever sites you love, whatever nonsense you think is fun and worth sharing.

So day thirteen’s assignment is to share links you love with a widget.

Why exactly is it so important to share links on your blog? Well, for one thing, people are information consumers. They love to jump from one thing they enjoy to another thing they enjoy, and to yet another thing they enjoy. If you provide fun stuff to enjoy, that’s just one more reason to visit your blog. Another reason to share links is that it shows a little bit more about you and your personality, and you can find yourself gaining readers because of it. If I, for instance, link to a dozen different Star Wars-related websites, fellow Star Wars geeks might stumble across me and start up a conversation or two. Then they might stick around because they realize that they enjoy talking to me and hearing what I have to say. Win!

Now, on this assignment I’m going to cheat a little, because personally I am not a fan of link widgets. As I’ve mentioned before, I like websites and blogs to be neat, streamlined, easy to look at, and I find that widgets that display a bunch of links are a little messy and too busy for my liking. That’s not to say that they’re a bad thing, and I’m sure that lots of people like them, but they’re just not my cup of tea.

Myself, I prefer a link page. That is, a separate page (like the “About” page) that is set aside specifically for links and stuff I want to share. My such page can be found on the black tab bar underneath my header. It’s labeled as “Linkables” because sometimes I think I’m cute. On that page I’ve broken the stuff I want to share up into categories. At the moment that I’m writing this there are only two categories, but those categories help people who are checking out the page to more quickly find what might be interesting to them, so keep that in mind.

Currently my “Linkables” page is limited to a small list of my favorite blogs, along with a small list of resources for writers that I’ve found to be interesting. In light of the assignment, I’ve decided to add a third category for things (or people) that I just find to be super fun. Check it out!