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Monthly ArchiveJune 2015

How young is too young? Age appropriate Nerdery

I have not posted anything in a while, mostly because the Nerdettes are out of town with my mom (’cause Nanny is AWESOME). Instead, I have been using my time to catch up on my own nerdery that I don’t feel is appropriate for a 7 and 4 year old. Things like Game of Thrones and Outlander are relegated to strictly after bedtime watching, and there are only so many hours I can feasibly keep my eyes open. As a result, I tend fall behind on a lot of shows and these past couple of weeks I have been able to catch up some. I’m still not there yet on GoT though, so NO SPOILERS!

Anyway, this has got me thinking about what franchises I can and can’t share with the Nerdettes. There are some things that are obviously inappropriate and those are easy enough to pick out. Then there are others that have kid friendly versions that I can easily substitute. Some good examples are Star Wars Rebels from Disney and  The Hobbit from the seventies. Now don’t get me wrong, these are not my go to titles if I want to scratch my Tolkien or LucasFilms itch, but they do give me a way to introduce the things I love to the Nerdettes without my having to think about whether or not there will be nightmares or having to explain what happened to my wife.

The really hard ones, though, are the borderline franchises. These are the movies and shows that aren’t really horror but may still be too scary, or most shows where most episodes are fine but a few get a little risqué. I recently ran into this kind of trouble with Star Trek: The Next Generation. I didn’t watch this when I was younger so I have been binge watching it recently to pass the time. Nerdette the Younger would snuggle up with me on occasion to watch it as well. Meanwhile Nerdette the Elder always preferred to watch her shows in the other room, so it was nice to have some one on one time with “the baby” However, the first and only time Nerdette the Elder decided to watch with us, all of a sudden the episode was about psychic rape. Needless to say, we changed it to a more appropriate show, but it did serve to stress to me the importance of knowing what exactly we will be watching.

Unfortunately, two of my most favorite things in the world fall under this borderline category. Harry Potter and Dr. Who. I am fairly certain if I were told I was going to a deserted island for the rest of my life and was only allowed to bring two things for entertainment, I would be perfectly happy with the Harry Potter books and the Dr Who boxed sets.  In fact, I am such a huge Harry Potter Nerd, that in college English, when I was assigned to write a short form memoir, I wrote a piece specifically about reading Harry Potter. (You can read it here if you are interested.)

My dilemma is, when can I introduce the nerdettes to my favorite things.  I want them old enough to enjoy them without having to worry about if it is too scary, but I also want them young enough that the magic of Hogwarts and the “science” of the Tardis inspire their imagination.   Plus I’m slightly impatient to re-experience the excitement through them. I still haven’t decided.

So help me out. Let me know in the comments what ages you think are appropriate. If you have already introduced your favorite things to your kids, what age did you start? How did you go about it? I’d love to hear your experiences  and learn about your favorite nerdery.

The Boy Who Lived…Vicariously

Two things of real significance occur July 16th, 2005 and the least of these is that I turn 23. This was vastly overwhelmed by the fact that this is the day I have been waiting for for three years. This is the day the newest Harry Potter book will be released. This is the day that I will finally be able to live again.

I wake up the morning of the 15th in a rush. Before my eyes even open I am already thinking, planning out my attack. I just have to make it to midnight and then the book will be in my hands. I will finally find out who the half-blood prince is. Then I remembered, “oh yeah…work”. I jump up and hurriedly get ready. I can’t be late again because my dependability is already in the toilet. At the same time, I have to take some time on my appearance or else Carrie, my boss, will razz me about it. “Another late night bender, eh Jacob?” she will sneer. Or, “Good thing vodka doesn’t have a smell huh?” She thinks I am an alcoholic because I have time management issues and frequently look like I slept in my clothes. The truth is that my clothes are wrinkled because folding them takes time that I would rather spend reading, and I sleep in because the night before I had to finish just one more chapter.

I arrive at work a bare five minutes late, and looking like the worst of muggles, in business casual attire that not even my grandmother would object to. This is a good result for me, so Carrie doesn’t say anything. She can’t resist an exaggerated sniff as I walk by though, searching for the aroma of a drink of which I didn’t partake. I sit at my desk and pull the bundle of letters waiting for me over to my computer. I am ready to tackle the day’s allotment of abuse head on. I work for a credit reporting agency in their fraud department. Every day I hear from people who have had some villain steal their identity, use up their credit, and left their credit rating in a shambles it is unlikely they will ever be able to fully recover. I hear stories about how people are unable to find work, get a car, or rent a home. Mostly I hear about how betrayed they feel, that someone could come in and take something so integral to their existence. I tell these people they should have been more careful, as if they just left their identity lying around. I tell them that I will happily put a statement on their report, even though I know this is more likely to hurt their efforts to get new credit. And finally, I tell them all I can do is dispute the incorrect information. I tell them it is up to them to work with the companies who have the false accounts to get them removed, even though this is a blatant lie. I tell them all of this because my company makes money on the amount of items that it reports. The more items removed, the less money we make. After about the fourth or fifth person calling in with the same sad story it strikes me. In my day to day existence I work for the bad guy. In this life I am a death eater.

Unfortunately this thought sticks with me all the way through the morning. I have to break out of this funk. It wouldn’t do to show up to the “pre-release” party with this kind of attitude. So at lunch, I decide to go out to eat with, Derrick, a friend of mine from a few rows over. He reads Stephen King like a religion so he understands my obsession, and we spend the hour re-discussing various books and authors that we have in common. I tell him about my plan to go to the pre-release party tonight at Barnes and Noble and invite him along.  He politely refuses, and secretly I am glad. Derrick is a great guy and one of my best friends, but he is also a bit of a talker. The last thing I will want at midnight tonight is to have to make small talk with someone I see at least five days a week anyway.

My “literary lunch,” as I like to think of it, is just what I needed to push through the rest of the day. I soldier through the complaints, the insults, and even the tears. I absolutely refuse to let even the elderly lady crying over how her assets have been frozen and she is on a fixed income faze me. After all what are the plights of a few individuals compared to the battle for the entire wizarding world.

When I finally get to the party, I feel at home. These are my people. From the shy girl in the manga aisle to the elderly couple dressed as Professors Dumbledore and Trelawney, these are the people who understand who I am. The rest of the night passes in a blur of pointy hats and wand waving. To my astonishment, I win the trivia contest. This means that not only have I proven my superiority in knowledge, but I have won the third place in line when it is time to buy the books. I am right behind the winner of the contest costume and the little boy in the motorized wheelchair. I force myself to believe he isn’t just faking it. As the clock counts down to midnight we all count along. It’s louder than any New Year’s Eve party I have ever seen. As the count reaches zero we all surge toward the registers, eagerly reaching toward the cashiers who have superimposed a forced smile over what would be an expression of fear and awe. Any other day I would be worried that they are judging me, but not today. Today is too important to care about such frivolities. I get three copies; one for myself, one for my sister, and one for when my first one wears out. I hurriedly pay and force my way past the line of people all staring at me hungrily. I can’t believe my luck. I had planned to be in line for another two hours yet, but it is only 12:15 and I am already on my way home.

Once home I don’t even stop to lock the door. I head straight to my bed, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince clutched in my hands. I stare at it for a while in astonishment. Sure, I knew what the cover would look like. Scholastic released it three months ago, but I still wanted to make sure I had every detail etched in my memory. I open the book and read, “Chapter One – The Other Minister” and suddenly I am swept away back into my real life. I am Harry Potter. I feel his astonishment as he meets professor Slughorn. I laugh out loud at the antics of Fred and George Weasley. And I puzzle through the mystery of the Half-Blood Prince’s identity with Hermione.

Halfway through the book I decide I have to have a break, if for nothing else than to use the restroom. I force the book down onto my bedside table and it causes a near physical wrench. I get up, lock the door, and empty my ashtray. I have already gone through a half of a pack of Marlboros, although I doubt I have actually smoked even 2 full cigarettes. Mostly they sit in the ashtray wasting. I change into pajamas, get a glass of water, and sit back down. I know I should go to bed and finish the book tomorrow, but the very thought it so abhorrent to my identity that I also know it isn’t going to happen. I open back the book and just as fast I am back at Hogwarts. I speed through the pages as if my life depended on it. I must know what happens next. I thrill a the story and I marvel at the events as they unfold. And then it happens. Snape kills Dumbledore. I gasp in shock. I mean I physically and verbally gasp. It is like I have been doused in cold water. Snape kills Dumbledore? My entire world is in upheaval. Surely I read something wrong. I read it again. The hero of my youth has just been thrown off the tower with a single spell. Avada Kedavra. No. Surely this is a plot twist. Ms. Rowling is just being clever. I go back to the book and rush through to the end, but Dumbledore is still dead when I close the book.

I am exhausted. It is now 7:00 am and I have an even greater yearning for the next book than I ever have. I finally turn off the light and lay my head on my still damp pillow and close my eyes. Before falling asleep, my last thought is that the message boards will be blazing tomorrow. Maybe someone else has found something in their first reading that I missed. Or maybe when I read it through again, more slowly and carefully, I will find some clue as to what really happened.

The next day, when I emerge to meet people for my birthday celebration, I am bleary eyed and sad. Everyone notices. They think I must have been up all night celebrating my birthday. They all ask, “What did you do last night?” I reply, “I bought a book,” but no one believes that is really true. This is ok because it isn’t really true. Actually, I lived.

Game Review – Munchkin Treasure Hunt Because dragons are no match for a Nerdette with a full diaper!

Today we will be reviewing Munchkin Treasure Hunt by Steve Jackson Games. Munchkin Treasure Hunt came out in September of 2014 as a Toys R Us exclusive. It  was designed by Andrew Hackard and illustrated by John Kovalic.

Munchkin Treasure Hunt box


From the Publisher

Number of players: 2-6

Game time: 60 Minutes

Age Group: 6+

Munchkin Treasure Hunt is a fun board game for up to six players, ages 6 and up – now everyone in the family can be a Munchkin! Treasure Hunt comes with a board, two custom six-sided dice, 96 colorful cards, four blank cards (so you can write your own!), six character standees, and a rulesheet.

The munchkins (that’s you!), move around the board. If you land on a monster, use the Monster cards to find out how tough it is, then roll a dice and use your Treasures (like Protective Kittens or a Broccoli Smoothie – EEEUUWW, YUCK) to beat it. When you run out of Treasure cards, whoever has the most gold in their hand wins the game!


The Game

Munchkin Treasure Hunt boardBasics: Munchkin Treasure Hunt is a basically the simplest form of a dungeon crawl game. Each player has a cardboard munchkin in a stand that represents them in the game. Everyone starts out in the center room on the board and everyone starts with three treasure cards.  You roll a die to see how many spaces you can move. Once you get to the next room you must fight the monster in that room for treasure.

Fighting: To fight a monster, you will first determine the monsters power. This will be the number listed in the room + the value of one monster card (two cards for the dragon). Next you will determine your fighting power. This is done by rolling a die. You can then add the value of your permanent treasures along with any one time use treasure from your hand. you may also ask for help from any one other munchkin who is within 6 spaces of the room you are fighting in.  If you defeat the monster, you take the number of treasure cards indicated  in its room.  If you cannot beat the monster, you run away and lose one permanent treasure.

Treasure: There are two types of treasure: Permanent and  One-Time. You can have up to two permanent treasures in front of you at any time. These add to your overall power. One-Time treasure stays in your hand until you use them, at which time they are discarded. Each treasure card has gold value which determines who wins the game. The treasures are very tongue in cheek and provide most of the “theme” of the game.

End Game: The game ends when the treasure deck is emptied. Once this occurs everyone counts up the gold value of their treasure cards. The highest gold wins.


Dad’s Review

Munchkin was the very first hobby board games my wife and I purchased and it has always been a big hit whenever we pull it out. That’s why when we heard Steve Jackson was publishing a children’s version we knew it would soon be part of our collection.  I am so glad it is because the nerdettes absolutely love this game. It is simple enough that both of them can play on their own and we spend the whole hour giggling over the different treasure cards.  My personal favorites are:

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Because there is some reading and math involved, we cannot leave them to play it on their own. Nerdette the Elder would have too much of an advantage. We have also instituted a house rule where instead of holding cards in our hands, we lay them all face up. That way we can help Nerdette the Younger read them.

The game plays very well with 3-6 players. I would not want to try it with just 2 as you would loose a lot of interaction that way. Even though the games do last at least an hour typically, the nerdettes always stay engaged until the very end.  This is rare in our house regardless of what we are doing. My only complaint is that if someone ends up with very powerful permanent treasures early on in the game, then they are certain to win. It would do better with some way to catch up.

Overall I am crazy glad we got this game and I would suggest it for any family. However, if it is just adults playing, I would stick with Munchkin.

Dad’s Rating:

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Nerdette the Elder’s review

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Do you like Munchkin Treasure Hunt?: Yes, I love it!

What do you like about it?: I like beating the monsters and getting treasure. I like going up against the dragon because he has the most treasure.

What don’t you like about it?: I don’t like it when I lose and have to run away.

Who would you recommend it to: Everybody

Nerdette the Elder’s Rating:

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Nerdette the Younger’s review

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Do you like Munchkin Treasure Hunt?: Yes.

What do you like about it?: I like the funny cards and helping people.

What don’t you like about it?: Nothing.

Who would you recommend it to: Everybody

Nerdette the Elder’s Rating:

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*The link to purchase is an affiliate link. This mean that if you purchase this game through that link I receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. It is my intent to use these affiliate links to help offset the cost of running the blog and I guarantee they will never affect the decision of which products to review. That decisions will solely be based on whether or not I think it will be successful with the nerdettes.*

 

 

 

Comic-Con with Kids

Last weekend we took the nerdettes to Dallas Comic-Con. We also had the added bonus of bringing my niece (Nerdette the Cousin) who the nerdettes worship like an Amazonian Goddess. Additionally, it was mine and my wife’s first visit to a big con, and we were all looking forward to it.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t quite pan out to be the day of awesome we had imagined. Now don’t get me wrong, we had fun. From everything we saw it seemed like a well run con, but I don’t think taking the nerdettes was the right decision.  They are not disciplined enough at this age to sit through the panels , so we missed out on one of the biggest draws for going to cons.  Also, we all had a pretty negative reaction to paying out crazy money to get an autograph or picture with the celebrities. This cuts out another big part of the experience. As a result we spent the day shopping and people watching. Both of these were lots of fun, but not exactly worth the price of admission.

With that being said, there were a lot of really cool parts of the day. All of the nerdettes LOVED the idea of cosplay and tried to take pictures with as many “celebrities” as possible. The only exception is Nerdette the Younger doesn’t like males (fingers crossed this sticks for a good long while) so she would only take pictures with the female characters.

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We also had a great time at the children’s cosplay contest. There were some really amazing costumes that the kiddos put together, and all the nerdettes said they want to compete next time we go to comic-con.

The nerdettes especially enjoyed seeing the real life R2D2s and other droids made by the Astromechs Builders Group, as well as the 501st Legion cosplayers. We have recently started watching Star Wars Rebels (more on this in a later post), so it was a treat to see the characters we love up close and personal. My wife says I am not allowed to make my own R2 unit but I’ll wear her down eventually.

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Plus, I got an awesome lightsaber, made by the good folks at Ultra Sabers. This has provided hours of fun sparring with the nerdettes.

Overall, I would definitely go back, but I’ll probably find the nerdettes a sitter. At least until they are old enough to really enjoy the panels.