Friday, April 29, 2011

Steampunk Save the Date Video

Kelley_Ives Save The Date from very clever media on Vimeo.

A few months ago, with some help from our friends at very clever media, we put together a Steampunk Save-the-Date video for our wedding.  Check it out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Boldly Go: Adventures in Trekspace

In case I haven't mentioned it, Improvised Star Trek has arisen from the ashes, taken the form of podcasts, and is now available for download here.  Please feel free to download, listen and write glowing reviews.

As with any new ...podcast...thing...we've been working hard to promote the show.  We've gone through some of the more well known advertising methods- setting up a Facebook fan page, tweeting, telling people that our show is great, press releases, a launch party, etc. But, as a cast, we also did one relatively unique thing to get the word out about Improvised Star Trek- we all joined TrekSpace.

TrekSpace is exactly what it sounds like- a social networking site for people who love Star Trek.  As people who love Star Trek are our target audience, this seemed like a good place to go to drum up downloads.  So, each cast member of Improvised Star Trek has created a page for their character.  Here's the page I set up for Crick Watson.

Here are some thoughts, and general observations about TrekSpace:

1.  I assumed that creating a page for a character and not a real person would be a relatively unique thing.  I was wrong.  I am friends with, amongst other made up Star Trek people, the empress of the planet Vulcan.

2.  I am also friends with several starships.

3.  Sometimes I get invited to Star Trek related events! Cool!

4.  One of those events was a birthday party for a starship.  I wonder if it would take place at the Utopia Planitia Shipyards?

5.  Remember poking on Facebook? The TrekSpace equivalent of poking is giving ribbons.  I have no idea what ribbons have to do with Star Trek.

6. I know this is going to sound weird, but it's really comforting to see that there are still so many people in the world who are passionate about Star Trek- not just the new movie, but OLD Star Trek.  I miss Captain Picard, and Deep Space 9, and hating Voyager, and it's nice to know that there's a whole social network filled with people who feel the same way.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Game of Thrones Review

If you haven't read "A Game of Thrones" by George RR Martin or watched the debut of the HBO adaptation of the book, you may want to stop reading now, because there will be spoilers from here on out.

About a year and half ago, Chelsea and I sat down and had a discussion about whether or not we were going to renew our cable service.  Cable is nice to have, but it's expensive.  You also pay a lot for things that you don't use.  Like, I never watch the Golf Channel.  Or the Big 10 network.  Or NBC, CBS, ABC, FX, Me TV, WGN... you get the idea.  Of the hundreds of channels we subscribe to, we probably watch about 12 with any sort of regularity.  Finally, we watch more and more "TV" through the Internet (Hulu, YouTube) and through Netflix which we stream through our PS3.  Cable just makes less and less economic sense for us.

Then, we found out that HBO was adapting George RR Martin's "A Game of Thrones"- the first book of my favorite series of books ever ("A Song of Ice and Fire")- into a TV show.  HBO does not let you watch their programming online unless you have a paid TV subscription.  Hopefully this will change in the future, but this single show convinced us to (for now) keep our cable subscription.

Basically, we kept Cable primarily to watch this one show.

Fast forward to last night when the show debuted.  We decided to make an event of it. For Chelsea and I, the debut of "Game of Thrones" was our Super Bowl.  We approached this the way most regular humans approach major holidays.  About a dozen people came to our apartment- most of whom had read at least "a Game of Thrones" if not the whole series.  We served food that was loosely based on dishes described in the books- ham, fresh baked bread, mussel soup, leek soup, turnip mash, mulled wine, and lemon cakes (of course). 

And with all of the build up, how was the show itself?

Kind of great.  Really great actually.  A premiere episode is always tough for any show- plot and character development usually take a backseat to establishing ground rules- who are these people, what is this place like, etc.  The show did a great job of introducing main characters and giving them each at least 1 scene to establish who they are, and what their motivations are, while also beginning the story, and moving it forward.

What else did I like?

-The opening credits.  Holy crap that may have been my favorite opening credit scrawl for a show ever.  Did anyone expect an animated steampunk map of Westeros to kick off the show? Because I didn't.

-The actors.  The actors were all great.  They may not all look exactly how I envisioned them from the books, but appearance is secondary to talent, and this cast has an excess of it.

-The setting.  Westeros looks real.  You could practically smell the food in the dining hall of Winterfell.

-The adaptation.  For fans of the books like me, it's important that the show is faithful to the spirit of the series.  It is.  It is VERY faithful.  At the same time, it's just as different as it needs to be to succeed as a TV series.  Television is not the same medium and changes will need to be made here and there.

-It was fun! Sex, violence, witty dialogue, monsters- who doesn't want those things on a TV show?

What didn't I like?

-The Dany plotline felt a little rushed, but only a little.

-Not to nitpick, but Robert Baratheon's hair color (jet black) is actually an important plot point.  I'm sure it won't be an issue, but the fact that his hair wasn't black kind of struck me.

And...that's about it.  I actually kind of had to struggle to think of those two things.

Overall, a great start to the show.  And what better way to watch it than surrounded by friends with a belly full of good food?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Consider my Girl-Nerd Feathers Ruffled!

As readers of this blog are well aware, I am over-the-moon excited about the HBO Television series adaptation Game of Thrones, the first book of one of my favorite fantasy series of all time, Song of Ice and Fire by one George R.R. Martin.  The series is very adult, imaginative, unique and lush with color, description and in-depth characters.

So when I read the faux-feminist drivel review of Ginia Bellafante in the New York Times, I was furious. She basically says that the HBO series is boy fiction with sex scenes thrown in for the ladies.  It's very obvious she didn't bother to talk to any girl fans of the series to ascertain what it is about the book (and hopefully translated into the HBO series) that we're all a squeeeee about.  Heck, she could have even just used Google to find out that the sex is a very VERY small part of why we like this series.

This young lady's blog pretty much sums up my feelings on Madame Bellafante's review.  And sure, Bellafante didn't like the series which though incomprehensible to me, is totally fair. It's not for everyone.  But to say that the reason I'm having a few people over to partake in some Westeros-inspired grub and to watch the first episode is because of the sex is royally insulting.

Frak you and your gross generalizations, Ginia Bellafante. Frak you!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Real Snippets of Conversation from the Kelley-Ives Household

Here are some things that have been uttered in our apartment recently:

"Oh! Don't forget- we need to buy ramekins to make lemon-cakes for our Game of Thrones Party."

"I've arranged the spice/sauce cabinet by phases of matter- solids over here and liquids over there."

"(while watching classic Battlestar Galactica) Did he just say "feed him to the daggetts? What is a daggett?"

"I just watched that scene from The Girl Who Waited where the doctor says goodbye to sleeping Amelia Pond. I swear it makes me tear up every time." (the "Girl Who Waited" is an episode of Dr. Who)

"We need to close the door of the Room of Requirement.  We don't want the cats to get into the clock gears I'm using to make boutonnieres" (the Room of Requirement is our office)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Improvised Star Trek Returns- Part 2

A little shameless self promotion for a moment:

The Improvised Star Trek Podcast (which we've been working on since September) is just about ready to go.  We're having a party/show at iO Chicago on Saturday night at midnight.  After that, you'll be able to download the show on iTunes.  In preparation, for the podcast, we recorded a guided tour of the ship which you can find here

Enjoy.  Also, come to the show this weekend.  There will be prizes!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ten of the Best Things I've Ever Eaten

As I'm about to clean my kitchen, and cook dinner, I started thinking about food, and how much I love it.  Here is a quick list of ten of the best things I've ever eaten.  Or maybe, ten of my favorite things I've ever eaten.  Regardless.  Here they are.

My mom's baked macaroni and cheese- Such a simple dish.  Pasta, cheese, Ritz cracker crumbs crumbled on top.  But, just thinking about it makes me miss home.

Fried Clams- And speaking of missing home- whenever I go back to Massachusetts, I always have fried clams.  I love clams, and while I can find okay-to-decent clam chowder pretty much anywhere, I've never had decent fried clams outside of New England.

Pork Belly from Blackbird- Sweet zombie Jesus this might actually be the best thing I've eaten in my whole life.  Braised pork belly with cornbread and a prawn on top.  Delicious.

Foie Gras Hot Dog from Hot Doug's- The perfect marriage of fine dining and street food.  Deliciousness made manifest in tubular form.   I've had alot of hot dogs in my life, but the Foie Gras dog is easily the best.

Green beans straight off of the plant- When I was growing up in New Hampshire, we had a little garden in our backyard where we grew green beans.  I used to love to eat them straight off of the plant.  Crisp, fresh, clean.  Always refreshing on a late Summer Day.

Sweetbreads from Tango Sur- Somebody else said this;  I don't remember who, but I'm stealing it.  Imagine the texture of a Chicken McNugget- crispy on the outside, kind of weirdly creamy on the inside.  Now imagine that it tastes amazing.  My first sweetbread experience was at Tango Sur.  If you don't know what a sweetbread is...uh...look it up.

Blueberry Ice Cream from any random ice cream place in Maine- Maine blueberries are smaller and tarter than regular blueberries.  In New England, many local ice cream places (every New England town has at least 1 mindblowingly amazing ice cream place) make ice cream with these blueberries.  Sweet, creamy ice cream, and tart little blueberries- a winning combination.

Lengua tacos- One of my favorite things about Chicago is that there are probably a hundred (if not more) amazing tacquerias here.  My favorite thing to order is a lengua taco on a soft shell with onions and a squeeze of lime. The best part? A single taco is almost always less than 2 dollars

Wings- There was this place in Amherst, MA called the Hangar, and when I was going to UMass, we would order their boneless Wings all of the time.  Giant, random pieces of chicken, deep fried, and covered in a sauce of your choice.  My choice was usually honey mustard.

Eggs- Is there anything better in the entire world than a fried or poached egg?  Is there anything that can't be improved by the addition of runny, bright yellow egg yolk? The answer to both questions is no.  I will eat an egg on anything- pizza, burgers, a salad, ramen.  I eat eggs for breakfast EVERY DAY.  And I don't get sick of them.  Ever.

That's just ten things. I could go on.  But I won't.  I'm going to eat something.  I will probably put an egg on top of it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

How I Learned to Love Baseball

Okay, so I always kind of loved baseball. When I was young I played Little League baseball, and I grew up in Red Sox crazy New England. I had a poster of Wade Boggs on my bedroom wall when I was.  I have very fond memories of sitting behind home plate with my grandfather at Fenway Park. You get the idea.

With that said, it took me awhile to get into baseball the way that I was into say, Star Trek, or theater, or books about dragons.  Why? For one thing, I was TERRIBLE at it.  I couldn't hit.  I was so afraid of the ball hitting my face that I tended to run away from it, so I was even worse at catching.  I mostly played right field, and would literally sit on the ground and pick dandelions until my Dad yelled at me.  I was good at two things- stealing bases, and taking walks.  I was good at taking walks because my strike zone was incredibly small as I was a tiny, tiny human.  And when I went to see the Red Sox, I was more interested in hot dogs and cracker jacks than who was winning the game. I didn't find baseball all that inspiring, as a thing. I tried to. I really did.  I just had no knack for it, and honestly found it kind of boring.

So, how did I learn to stop worrying and love America's Past-time? Well, I discovered baseball as a literary concept.  Specifically, I discovered the Red Sox as a romantic idea.

New England is a very well educated area, and I think the Red Sox might have the highest number of fans who are authors and college professors of any major league team.  Prior to 2004 when they won the World Series for the first time since 1918, there were many, many books, essays, poems, songs, limericks, etc. written about the Red Sox. They were the ultimate under-dog.  They always struggled mightily and failed at the last moment. They had an undefeatable enemy in the New York Yankees.  They were like me- (or, they were like my perception of myself) a little nerd trying to deal with the bully down the street. 

As soon as I hit on that- the Red Sox as the little guy- I had something to relate to in baseball.  The Red Sox were me! But manifested as a baseball team.

That was my gateway.  That's how I got into baseball.  So what kept me coming back? Two things:

1.  Quality- Around the time I started getting really excited about baseball, the Red Sox started getting really good.  Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, David Ortiz- these were guys to get excited about.  And then in 2004 (as stated above), they won the whole thing, rewarding generations of fans who'd kept the faith over 86 years.  They did it in dramatic fashion by coming back against the hated NY Yankees from a 3 game deficit. The little guy won!

2.  Stats- In the last few years, baseball stats have become a really huge thing.  Sabermetrics- an obejctive, numbers based approach to analyzing baseball- came to dominate how teams were run.  Applying math to sports- that's an idea a nerd can get behind.

So romance, and stats.  That's why I'm a baseball fan. Being a Red Sox fan is also something that keeps me connected to friends and loved ones.  We may not like all of the same things, but most of my friends and family from home root for the Red Sox.  They are our common cause.

Today is opening day, and all I have to say is Go Red Sox!