Geek in the City

Mixing pop culture news, reviews, and socially biting commentary with mildly amusing entertainment.

Geek in the City Radio Issue 55 – Of Lightcycles and Legos

With Scott moving into Portland from the nether-realms of St. Helens, Dan Clark steps in as full co-host. In this incredibly dorky issue, Aaron receives a most epic gift and wishes his ethnicity had better drinking devices. Then, Dan reviews the newest Tim Burton film, Alice in Wonderland. Next, as promised, Dan sits down with the very nerdtastic Spork and talks about hunting down the secrets of Tron Legacy and Flynn Lives! Finally, Aaron talks about the very important TFAW Food Drive: “March Against Hunger“. And, somewhere in there, we learn of cultural sensitivity from the Lego Corporation. All that and Christopher Lee, only on GeekintheCity Radio.

This weeks musical breaks are:

RE: Your Brains (Live)Jonathan Coulton (Recorded February 27 at the Aladdin Theater).

To Take The BlackSword (In honor of A Game of Thrones footage release – woo)!

As always, GeekintheCity Radio is brought to you by Things From Another World.

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Geek Trivia Night – This Time It’s Personal!

Okay, it isn’t really, but I like adding cheesy 80s tag lines whenever I can. Tonight, at the Vendetta Bar at 7pm, Things From Another World presents the next Geek Trivia Night! Form a team (or go it solo) for your chance to prove your Geek might and win some seriously great swag. Swag like Things gift certificates, comics, action figures, Vendetta drink tabs, and of course… Eternal Glory! In addition to your own shot at legendary victory, you can watch the epic throw-down between team GeekintheCity and team TFAW. A throw-down that was canceled by Mother Nature last time, I know both teams are itchin’ to get it on! You do not want to miss this one!

Remember, tonight at Vendetta at 7pm. No cover, but you must be 21 to attend. See you there!

Also, coming up this week on GeekintheCity Radio… Dan Clark will bring his Top-5 Pirate Films, Dan Halstead of Portland Grindhouse talks about a great film festival, and Aaron Duran will explain why The A-Team just might be the most important movie of the year!


FITS – Game of the Month

Guardian Games PresentsFITS (Fill In The Spaces)

Produced by: Reiner Knizia – Designed by: DE Ravensburger fits_cover

Tetris, does one really need an explanation of this iconic Russian game? I didn’t think so. For years, video game companies have expanded upon and built from this classic puzzler; with varying degrees of success. The board game realm stayed away, how could a static playing field ever hope to capture the fun and tension of Tetris? Enter FITS, an interesting and very approachable take on Tetris.

The focus of the game is simple. Each player wants to make as many rows as possible with their geometric shapes in a given round and at the end of four rounds, the player with the most points wins.fits_field

Gameplay – Playable with up to four players (and even an optional rule for solo play), FITS is very easy to run straight out of the box. Each player chooses a color and places the Round 1 card onto their platform. From there, each player draws one of the four Starter Tile cards. The shape on the Starter Card dictates which piece the player places on their Platform first. From there, play begins with the turning over of a Piece Card, again revealing what tile needs to go onto your platform next. Unlike the Starter Card, the players share the Piece Cards. Here is where strategy comes into action. Unlike Tetris, you may not move your pieces from side to side. Only straight down onto your board. Yes, you may turn them all you like, but once you stick the piece onto the Platform, you are committed to that play. Additionally, when (not if) your Starter Card tile matches the drawn Piece Card tile, you skip that turn. This adds another level of random to FITS. In Round 1 you earn a point for each completed row. Rounds 2 – 4 vary the scoring system. While you still receive 1 Point for each complete row, you now receive bonus points for leaving numbered spaces clear and negative points if you do not cover negative numbers;  or keeping identical pairs of shapes open. As a player you must decide. Go for the easy (but lower) points from making rows or do you aim for the higher (but greater risk) points associated with open numbers and shapes?fits_tiles

Design – FITS is both sturdy and simple in design. The cards are standard playing card width with a plastic coating that allows for long-term use. Your plastic tile Platforms are a tad on the flimsy side, but as long as you don’t toss them around the room in frustration they will last you as long as you own the game. The cardboard Playing Fields are extremely sturdy, being stronger than the box FITS comes packed within. The colored Tiles Pieces are very well made and fit into the grooves of the Platform with ease, even staying in place when you’ve created less than stable shapes. The Tile Pieces are a little on the small side, so I would keep away from kids that still like putting things in their mouth.fits_cards

Appeal – FITS works on a few levels. For the hardcore Tetris fan (like the Lovely Jenn) FITS might start a little slow, but they will soon find themselves enjoying the strategy involved in planning a scoring style. Casual gamers will like the fast game play, with the rules only requiring the most cursory of read through. FITS is a great family game that everyone can enjoy. Adults and older kids will appreciate the skill required to plan ahead, while younger kids will like making shapes with the Tile Pieces. Teachers and those in education would be smart to include FITS in their collection. Like other math-based games like Tangram, FITS deceptively teaches kids problem solving and math skills under the guise of an entertaining game.

Overall – For the price, FITS is truly a game that is “good for the whole family”. FITS is rated from 8 – 99 years old and can play up to 4 players. This Christmas, before you fire up the video games and movies, give FITS a try. You might find that you don’t need Tetris anymore.

Make a comic? Wanna' sell it? Click here then!

Make a comic? Wanna' sell it? Click here then!

Be a Giving Geek.

This is the time of the year when all the various pop culture sites on these here Intertubes post grand and glorious gift lists. Each and every year we all drool over the images of a Carbonite Desk, life-size Tardis, or our very own Caprica Six (okay, maybe you can’t buy that one). Still, for most of us mere mortals these gifts are so far beyond our means we simply shake our head and whisper “someday”. Normally this would be the section where your friendly neighborhood Geek writes “And now, it is my turn”. Well, it is, but you won’t get anything from the GeekintheCity list; save that warm and fuzzy feeling you got after your first natural kiss or first 20. (Um, strike that. Reverse it).

This has been a tough year, hell, it has been a tough few years now. Many a friend and family have seen their jobs go away, or at the very least stand on shaky ground. While there is some glimmer of recovery on the horizon, we’re still facing a rather tight holiday season. I consider myself very lucky. I’ve never gone without something under the tree. I’ve never spent the holidays in a hospital bed, tubes connected to my body. I’ve never spent my holiday in a shelter, hoping for just one more hot meal and soft bed. I’ve never spent the holidays overseas, surrounded by people that wanted to kill me. Yes, I have been very lucky indeed. As I grow older I am made more and more aware of this fact, and in kind I find myself wanting to give back that which made me the human I am today. With that in mind, I wanted to present to you fine readers some Geek themed charities you can give to this holiday season that will help make the season a little brighter.

The Hero Initiative – I’ve written about this fantastic group many times and am an active and yearly sponsor. Their goal is simple, insure those that fueled our dreams have a chance at theirs. For every Stan Lee you read about, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of writers, artists, inkers, and letters you never heard of. Many of whom lived tough, even unbearable lives, while their creations went on to generate millions. The Hero Initiative doesn’t point fingers or go after companies. They simply exist to help these creators through tough times. Be it rent, medical bills, or simply helping them buy food; the Hero Initiative is there. Sadly, even in the modern age many comic book professionals work without any form of safety net or health coverage. When you or I break a finger, it cuts into our XBox time and we complain. A comic creator breaks a finger, they may find themselves out of a job. This is where the Hero Initiative will often step in and make sure the bills still get paid as this creator heals. As their slogan goes: Because Everyone Deserves a Golden Age.

Heroes For Heroes – Everyone knows, the occasional Star Trek Gay Rights rant aside, this site stays away from anything politically charged. Not saying the folks at GeekintheCity don’t have an opinion (toss back a few brews with us, we got opinions comin’ out of our Power Regulators). This was just a nice way of saying you can help out our men and women serving overseas without being a fan of many of the reasons they’re there. (Shoot, I’ve got close friends that serve and they ain’t fans of the reasons either).  Heroes For Heroes isn’t out to make a political statement. They aren’t out to push an agenda. Their mission is simple. Being away from home at the holidays sucks. It sucks even more when you spend it in a dusty tent in the middle of a dessert and all the green and red lights come from weapons systems. When you donate goods to Heroes For Heroes, you aren’t tossing in your support for Glenn Beck or Thom Hartmann. You aren’t buying a cheesy magnet ribbon that does nothing but fatten the Global Magnet Ribbon Cartel (okay, that doesn’t exists, but I like the image). No. You’re simply making an already hostile living condition just a little more comfortable. We joke about comics being cliched images of Americana, but as one that has talked directly to troops that receive comics from the states… Apart from cookies from mom, there is very little that reminds them of home than Truth, Justice, and the Comic Book Way!


Equality Now – Equality Now was founded in 1992 to work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women around the world. Working with national human rights organizations and individual activists, Equality Now documents violence and discrimination against women and mobilizes international action to support their efforts to stop these human rights abuses. Through the Can’t Stop the Serenity project, Firefly / Serenity fans host screenings and charity drives to raise money for this important group. I could go on and on about this great group, but this video work better. (And, it is kinda’ shiny too).

Child’s Play – As if the Penny Arcade folks aren’t busy enough, in 2003 they started the Child’s Play Charity. Like many charities, this one started with a simple idea. Kids, all kids, should have some fun and joy in their lives. If an illness keeps them from going out and having fun, we Geeks should bring the fun to them. I’ll let Gabe from Child’s Play tell you:

Here’s the deal.

Since 2003, we’ve set up and organized Child’s Play, a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in our network of over 60 hospitals worldwide. In five short years, you as a community have answered the call and come together to raise millions of dollars.

That was awesome. You guys have proven over and over again that you are an overwhelming force, and you really came through and made a real difference to the millions of kids that children’s hospitals care for each year. So we’re doing it again this year, only this time we’ve expanded Child’s Play to more hospitals around US and the globe so you can send toys to a hospital a little closer to home.

Child’s Play works the same as last year. With the help of hospital staff, we’ve set up gift wish lists full of video games, toys, and movies. You can go to each hospital’s list and buy a toy, and that toy will be sent to the hospital. Some of these kids are in pretty bad shape. Imagine being stuck alone in a hospital over the holidays, getting something from a fellow gamer would really raise their spirits. Some of the stuff the hospital will give away for kids to keep, while other gifts (like consoles) will be kept by the hospital for patients to use throughout the year.

We are arguably the largest community of gamers on the internet. The important word there being community. We are not a faceless corporation and you are not just a number tracked by a database and then relayed to hungry advertisers. You guys have proven yourselves to be a powerful force when stirred into action. Here is your opportunity to use that power to do some real good.


O.R.C. – Finally, something for the local folks. The Oregon Roleplaying Charity hosts all-day gaming events and uses any money raised to support and donate to the  Portland branch of SMART. The SMART reading program helps kids become confident readers by providing individual volunteer attention and new, take-home books. SMART partners with more than 200 schools that have high populations of children from low income families, as studies show they are less likely to have books in the home. To encourage reading outside the classroom, SMART gives each child 14 new, take-home books—two per month during the course of the program. The vision of SMART is an Oregon where every child can read and is empowered to succeed. You can take direct action this Saturday (12/12/09) and join O.R.C. for some all-day role playing at Guardian Games in Portland. Starting at noon and running until close of the store. Games will be held in two sessions of four hours each. The first session is from noon until 4:00pm and the second session from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. All they ask for a $5.00 minimum donation (but you are always welcome to give more, come on, you don’t need ANOTHER set of dice) to sit in on the games, larger donations are always appreciated.  I’ve already planned to dungeon delve in some old-school AD&D 1st Edition fun, join me! orctranswhite

So, after you go out and get that fun swag for you and yours, take some time and help out these great Geek charities. Just because we don’t live in a game doesn’t mean we can’t rack up some Karma points. Until next time, may all your rolls be Natural 20s!

Make a comic? Wanna' sell it? Click here then!

Make a comic? Wanna' sell it? Click here then!